MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff acknowledged reports of a postgame locker-room fight between Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi before his team faced the Nets on Friday night at FedEx Forum, but he cast the altercation as a sign of his team’s passion for the game after losing 10 of its previous 13 games.
“Things can happen, but it’s for the right reason, and what’s most important is the team,” Bickerstaff said of the Wednesday altercation. “We just move forward and understand that whatever happens to this team or with this team, it’s because there’s a passion about winning basketball games and playing the game the right way. You don’t have disagreements if people don’t care. There’s a reason why it’s going on, and they want to fix it.”
On Thursday, the Grizzlies’ roller-coaster ride took another turn as they completed a trade that sent MarShon Brooks and Wayne Selden Jr. to the Bulls for Justin Holiday. Although Holiday completed his physical Friday, he wasn’t active against the Nets.
Asked if the recent upheaval might galvanize his team, Bickerstaff said: “The group has been together. It hasn’t been a splintered group. You look at the stretch we’ve gone through and it hasn’t been a lack of effort. It hasn’t been selfishness. There have just been small things that haven’t been accomplished to get us over the hump. I think there is a sense of urgency in the locker room.”
The Nets went through a similar downturn when they lost eight straight games earlier this season, including a double-overtime loss to the Grizzlies. But they entered Friday night’s game having won 10 of their previous 13.
Said Kenny Atkinson, “Our guys did a great job of sticking together, keeping their spirit right and working hard. I’ve been around the NBA long enough that I’ve seen enough of those spats on other teams. It happens a lot more than people talk about. It won’t affect them at all.”