On Saturday night, it was that squad from Memphis that epitomized what so many fan bases around the league feel or have felt regarding rooting for a young team: The flashes of future brilliance are exciting, but the silliness of the present sure can be frustrating.
The Grizzlies' young talent was on display throughout the first half in Chicago as Memphis jumped out to a 50-42 lead at the break. But not only did the lead evaporate in the second half, the deficit that ensued was enhanced by two thoughtless plays by the young visitors.
At one point in the fourth quarter, the Grizz cut the Bulls' lead to 83-80. They gave up two Bulls baskets to stretch the deficit to seven and called timeout to stop the bleeding. Though the next offensive set didn't yield a basket, the Grizz followed it up with a fantastic 24 seconds of defense at the other end to keep themselves in the game. But as the refs called a shot clock violation on Chicago, a light shove from Hakim Warrick knocked down Andres Nocioni (who should be credited with a bit of embellishment), shooting after the whistle. Warrick was hit with a technical, and Derrick Rose converted to stretch the lead to eight.
The next time down the floor, Kyle Lowry broke up a fast break by manhandling Rose with some combination of a hard shove and wrap-up maneuver. Flagrant foul. Rose hit both freebies, and the Bulls got the ball back.
The Bulls didn't score on that extra possession, so the two fouls weren't as damaging as they could have been. But they still stretched a seven-point lead to 10, and they were both wholly unnecessary. The final margin was 10, but it bears noting that the Grizz had the lead down to six in the final minute, and the rest of the margin came from intentional fouls in the final minute. Those three points the Grizzlies gave away in the last six minutes could have made a huge difference in how the rest of the game played out.
Silly fouls: just one more tribulation of rooting for a rebuilding team. And just one more reason to be grateful for the opportunity to root for the defending champions. Even on the nights when they aren't so hot.