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Nets head to Memphis ... Home of the blues?

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when the Nets big problem (well, one big problem) was the third quarter? Now, it's the first quarter. In the last two games, vs. the Lakers and Rockets, teams took advantage of the Nets lack of an athletic defense to rain three's. It seems opponent coaches know the Nets can't close quickly enough and one three point shooter after enough gets left wide open.  Wednesday night, it was Jordan Farmar leading the way, Friday night, it was Chandler ParsonsJason Kidd says the schedule, four games in five nights, has led to fatigue, which in turn has led to other issues. He should be so lucky. It's been a problem all year long. The Nets are currently last in perimeter defense in the NBA, letting opponents hit 40.1 percent.

The opponent this Thanksgiving weekend, closing out the brutal five night stretch, will be the Memphis Grizzlies. LIke the Nets, they have disappointed, but not at the same level. They are 8-7, which in the West doesn't get you a playoff spot extrapolated out over the season.  They're also hurting with Marc Gasol, last year's DPOY out for a while.  Memphis is unlikely to match the three-point exploits of Los Angeles or Houston, being one of the league's worst three point shooting teams, but they can muscle inside.  That's not exactly a Nets defensive strength either.

One saving grace: the Grizzlies have played poorly at home lately, averaging only 86.3 points per game in their last three at FedEx Forum, all losses. The Grizzlies will be trying to avoid losing four straight at home for the first time in almost four years Saturday night.

The season so far

What have these squads been up to? Let's see:





4-11 8-7


95.9 92.7

Offensive Efficiency

98.9 99.7

Defensive Efficiency

105.0 102.7

Offensive Rebounding percentage

24.5 25.7

Turnover rate

14.6 14.2

Assist rate

15.5 17.7

Rebound rate

48.9 50.7

Free throw rate

32.4 44.4

Effective Field Goal percentage

47.2 48.2

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.7 50.0

Brook Lopez is expected back. He's likely to face Kosta Koufos and Memphis' center-by-committee. Kevin Garnett, rested during the Houston debacle, will also be available to watch Zach Randolph. Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry aren't with the team. D-Will will be re-evaluated on Monday, but the other two will miss at least another week. Kirilenko will have missed 14 games by then, as many as he missed all season.

Otherwise, the starters should be a bit more rested, four of them having been pulled by Kidd after the first half. Shaun Livingston; Joe Johnson; Paul Pierce and Andray Blatche all sat. Combined, they shot 3-of-23 in the first half before Kidd pulled them.

Thus far, the season's only saving grace has been the development of the team's younger and athletic subs. Mirza Teletovic, given an opportunity the last two games, has averaged 17.5 points, 9.0 rebounds while shooting 10-of-22 overall and a scintillating 7-of-13 from deep. Tyshawn Taylor has also played well and better than Livingston. Against the Rockets, in case you physically couldn't read the boxscore, Taylor had his first NBA double-double with 16 points and 12 assists. While playing much more steadily than he has in the past, he hasn't shot well in his last five games, games where he's seen big minutes. Overall, he's shooting 41.4 percent and only 20 percent from deep. Mason Plumlee continues to surprise, scoring 16 points vs. the Rockets. He's shot 14-of-17 in the last four.

Memphis is likely to start Koufos at center, Randolph at power forward, Tyshawn Prince at small forward and Mike Conley Jr. and Tony Allen at the guards, with Ed Davis sharing minutes in the post later in the game. Jerryd Bayless comes off the bench.  One thing to look for: the athleticism of the Grizzlies backcourt could be a big problem for the Nets.

Memphis does have coaching issues as well. There were reports earlier in the week that everyone is giving rookie coach Dave Joerger advice, from owner Robert Pera, a 30-something software tycoon, to John Hollinger, the former ESPN stats maven now the Grizzlies vice-president for basketball operations.

Player to Watch: Zach Randolph

Randolph has always been a Nets nemesis.  A big tough guy with a soft touch, he's averaging a very typical 16 points and nearly 10 rebounds, shooting 49 percent overall.  He has not, however, picked up the scoring load since Gasol has gone down.  Memphis realizes that and wants to involve him more.

As STATS points out... "Getting Randolph more involved could prove key for Memphis, which is 7-2 when he scores at least 15. The veteran forward is averaging 13.6 points at home compared to 18.1 on the road."

For the Nets to have a chance to win, they will have to contain Randolph as well as the Grizzlies speedy backcourt.

From the Vault

Head on back to the November 1995 for the Grizzlies first game as the Vancouver Grizzlies. Benoit Benjamin, the former Net,  led the Grizz to a 92-80 win over the Trail Blazers. Byron Scott had 14.

More reading: The Grizzly Bear Blues