MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale admits he’s at a loss to explain the mounting losses.
On Saturday night at FedExForum, he had a fifth straight defeat — a 107-90 loss to the Atlanta Hawks — to rehash and, somehow, it didn’t appear to differ from the previous four.
“We’re just bad right now and for whatever reason we can’t get it together,” Fizdale said. “Our practices have been great. (They’re) just not translating right now. We are just going to keep plugging away at it and keep trying to figure out how to get better.”
With the Grizzlies struggling, Atlanta took advantage. Taurean Prince scored 17 points, Paul Millsap had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Dennis Schroder added 16 points to lead the Hawks.
JaMychal Green led Memphis with 20 points and 11 rebounds and Mike Conley scored 16 points. But the Grizzlies were ineffective in every phase of the game, shooting 37.8 percent from the field, which included 17.2 percent from beyond the arc, and allowing 100 or more points for the eighth time in nine games.
After pulling away from the Grizzlies late in the first quarter behind a 12-0 run, the Hawks were never threatened. They led 33-15 after the first quarter and spent the remainder of the game — except for a brief period before the half — enjoying double-digit leads that eventually reached 26 points.
“We need to get back to trusting each other on the defensive end,” said Tony Allen, one of the NBA’s top defenders. “If we get some defensive stops, we can let our defense dictate our offense and build from there. Obviously, it’s been a rough time for us.”
Averaging more than nine 3-pointers per game, Memphis missed 21 of its first 23 attempts beyond the arc before hitting back-to-back 3s (Conley and Troy Daniels) in the fourth quarter. Allen said the key to the Grizzlies recovering on the offensive end isn’t a mystery.
“Everybody knows their role,” he said. “You shoot when you have an open shot, you drive when you have to drive and, for the most part, you are getting the ball to Marc (Gasol) or Mike (Conley). Then you try to make plays to the best of your ability.”
Memphis, which never led in the game, surrendered 15 3-pointers, including three each to Bazemore and Prince, whose 17 points represented a career high.
Bazemore went on a scoring spree to start the third quarter by dropping in eight straight, including back-to-back 3-pointers, to help extend a 12-point halftime lead to 24 points.
“We just kept our foot on the gas,” Bazemore said. “We struggled a little bit in (a 14-point) second quarter, but our defensive intensity stayed where it needed to be and we kept getting stops and eventually our shots starting falling again and we pulled away.”
Memphis rallied by scoring 10 straight points to trim the deficit to 10 and cut the Hawks’ advantage to seven (42-35) with a minute left in the half. But the Hawks regained the momentum by converting two turnovers into five points for a 47-35 lead at the break.
“We had a 14-point second quarter and I think we settled for a lot of jumpers,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We weren’t driving the ball. At halftime, one of the messages was to drive the ball more and move the ball more. In the third quarter, Baze got a couple of looks and got a couple of drives and Dennis found some open guys. I think that was the difference.”
The Grizzlies fizzled from the outset. In the opening quarter, Memphis connected on only 5 of 24 shots and missed each of its eight 3-point tries. The Grizzlies also committed six turnovers that led to 13 points, and by the end of the quarter were drawing a rare smattering of boos from the home crowd.
By midway through the second quarter, the Grizzlies continued to misfire. Five minutes into the quarter, Memphis was shooting 18.4 percent from the field (7 of 38), was 1 of 12 from beyond the arc and trailed 40-20.
“We’re in our own heads right now,” Conley said. “Individually, we are hesitant and we are doubting ourselves. We have to look in the mirror and figure out what we can do to be better individually and as a team. We have to get this thing in the right direction and not let go of the rope.”
Memphis shot a lowly 26.5 percent from the field in the first half and only 12.5 percent from long range (2 of 16). The Grizzlies’ nine turnovers led to 18 Atlanta points.
The Hawks shot 45.7 percent from the floor in the first half.
“This is a new adversity for us,” Fizdale said. “Our defensive trust is out the door right now and we’ve got to get it back. We’ve been drilling that.”
NOTES: Hawks C Dwight Howard (rest) did not play Saturday in what was the second game of a back-to-back. The Hawks beat Toronto 105-99 on Friday night in Atlanta. Howard missed his sixth game this season and his third for scheduled rest. … Grizzlies F Chandler Parsons entered the game having gone 8 of 29 from the field in his last five games. He started against the Hawks and missed his first three shots before being replaced by Troy Daniels. Parsons made 2 of 7 from the floor and finished with five points in 24 minutes. … The Hawks’ Tim Hardaway Jr. extended his consecutive games with a 3-pointer streak to 18. He connected from beyond the arc in the closing seconds of the first half. … The fifth straight loss for the Grizzlies is their longest losing streak since late last March and early April when Memphis lost six in a row in an injury-riddled season.