The Memphis Grizzlies have struggled since dealing Rudy Gay. Perhaps surprisingly, though, his absence has seemingly taken a bigger toll on defense.
The Grizzlies' defensive woes, however, pale in comparison to what the Golden State Warriors are experiencing.
Both will try to avoid three-game losing streaks Friday night when they meet in Memphis.
The Grizzlies (30-18) have lost four of six and are 1-3 after trading Gay to Toronto on Jan. 30. Gay was their leading scorer at 17.2 points per game, and while the Grizzlies' production has dipped some, the more noticeable change has been on defense.
Memphis allowed 89.5 ppg and 43.6 percent shooting with Gay on the roster, but is giving up 95.3 points on 49.3 percent shooting since his trade. It allowed Atlanta to shoot 51.4 percent in a 103-92 road loss on Wednesday.
"We weren't playing our game," Marc Gasol told the NBA's official website. "They ran at us every time, and they put a lot of pressure on the ball. It hurts even more to get beat at your own game, and get outworked. ... Obviously we're struggling a little bit right now, but we're going to fight and figure it out."
Gay has 74 points in three games for the Raptors, while the players who came to Memphis in the three-team deal - Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis - have combined for 41 points in three games, with 31 coming from Prince.
Gasol is also having a hard time finding his shot since the trade, averaging 12.3 points on 34.7 percent in the four contests.
Jerryd Bayless, however, continues to respond well to playing increased minutes, scoring 15 on 6-of-9 shooting with five assists in 25 minutes against the Hawks. Bayless is averaging 19.8 points while shooting 55.1 percent - including 7-of-14 from 3-point range - in the last five games.
The Warriors (30-19) had won four straight before dropping two in a row, giving up a total of 259 points in losses at Houston and Oklahoma City.
After letting the Rockets tie an NBA record with 23 3-pointers on Tuesday, a fog delay prevented Golden State from arriving in Oklahoma City until about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Warriors may have felt the ill effects of the late arrival, falling behind the Thunder 42-22 early in the second quarter en route to a 119-98 loss.
Despite getting run over in their last two games, All-Star forward David Lee isn't necessarily concerned moving forward.
"I think (Tuesday) we ran into a hot team and we did not play as well as we should have defensively and (Wednesday) we fall victim to the same thing Oklahoma City does to everyone in this building," said Lee, averaging 19.2 points and 11.0 rebounds. "With that being said, it's not an excuse. We played poorly defensively both games, but I don't see it as a trend, I see it as something we have to get better at."
The Warriors played fine defense against the Grizzlies on Jan. 9, but fell 94-87 - their eighth consecutive defeat in the series. Golden State has also lost seven straight in Memphis, its last win there coming on April 4, 2008.
Stephen Curry is averaging 22.6 points in his last eight games versus the Grizzlies, combining for 50 in two losses this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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