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Nets open road trip in Memphis

NBA: Preseason-New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

There were no bargains on Black Friday in Brooklyn. The Nets played host to the Portland Trailblazers in an early affair, but couldn’t come away with a win as they wound up losing a nailbiter. This is the first night of a three-game road trip and the first night of a back-to-back. They’re heading to Houston to face the red hot Rockets Monday night.

The opponent Sunday evening will be the Memphis Grizzlies. For years, we had been wondering when would the Grizz finally fall off, and so far at least, it appears that this is the year. They lost their seventh straight game on Friday night and are in a major rut. It doesn’t get any easier after this. They have a home-and-home set with the San Antonio Spurs this week before traveling to Cleveland on the second night of a back-to-back.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 6 PM.


No D’Angelo Russell tonight.

Mike Conley Jr. will be out a few weeks due to an Achilles injury. Brandan Wright has been out for the past week due to a groin injury and he’s out again as is Wayne Selden who’s been hampered by a quadriceps injury.

The game

Up top, I mentioned that this might be the year Memphis finally falls off. Over at Grizzly Bear Blues, Joe Mullinax pushes back on that, writing:

There simply hasn’t been enough time with the “key” Grizzlies on the court together in the roles they were meant to be in when the season began to really make a judgment on what this team is. Mario Chalmers isn’t a starting point guard at this stage of his career. Dillon Brooks shouldn’t have to be a starter. But yet here we are, with those two realities, and no real idea of what this team is yet. It’s hard to bury such a squad.

They've earned the benefit of the doubt, but they've gotta turn it around soon.

Marc Gasol will be the focal point of Memphis’ attack. One of the things that makes him such an important player is his passing skills. He leads Memphis in assists and is coming off a career high 14 assists on Friday night. He’s been able to expand his range over the past few years, and that makes him a pretty difficult cover. The trio of Jarrett Allen, Trevor Booker, and Tyler Zeller will have their hands full. Memphis is the third worst rebounding team in the league, and if the Brooklyn three (shout out to my guys) win the battle on the boards, they’ll be able to control the tempo of the game and get Memphis going a lot faster than they’d like.

Chandler Parsons was expected to be the wing that helped Memphis keep up with teams like Golden State and San Antonio. He had a disastrous debut season in Memphis, but has seemingly settled into a nice role this year. He’s still on the low side in terms of minutes, but he is shooting a career best 47.3 percent from deep and was recently inserted into the starting lineup. He’ll have his hands full dealing with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Rondae does just about everything on the court and that versatility makes him a perfect fit for what the franchise hopes to accomplish down the line.

And look who’s on the trip...

Sean Kilpatrick

No word when he’ll be back from his arthroscopic knee surgery, but it’s a good sign he’s making progress. Expect him and Kenny Atkinson to talk strategy just like Jeremy Lin did last season when he was out.

Player to watch: Tyreke Evans

When we weren’t looking, Reke rejuvenated his career. One big thing that’s carried over from last season is his three pointer. In 14 games with the Kings last year, he shot a career best 43.8 percent from three point range. This year, he’s shooting an impressive 41.3 percent from deep. Combine that with his success scoring in the paint and a career low turnover rate and you’ve got yourself a viable rotation player that can give you close to 30 minutes a night. He’s on a one-year contract, and if he continues to play like this, he’ll be in line for a nice sized payday this summer.

Caris Levert will be the key player coming off the bench for Brooklyn. This bench role gives him a chance to orchestrate the offense and that’s a good thing for him. He’s committed seven turnovers in the past two games, but you can live with that as he’s working hard and adding new tools to his repertoire.

From the Vault

On Friday, Nickelodeon premiered “Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie.” If you’re like me, it brought back a lot of great memories of a great show and caused us to get emotional at times. With that in mind, let’s revisit one of the show’s many great moments. Also, astute observers will notice my SB Nation avatar is from this episode.

More reading: Grizzly Bear Blues