The Memphis Grizzlies spent the late stages of their Monday night home game against the Nuggets barfing away what had been a 25-point lead. Denver grabbed its first lead of the entire game with under a minute left in the fourth quarter; the teams traded buckets over the following 15 seconds (including an extremely ugly go-ahead post bucket from Nikola Jokic), leading to the following sequence, with Memphis down a point. If you look closely, you can see Kyle Anderson’s brain oozing out of his ears like hot cheese:
Everything that happened immediately after Mike Conley hit Anderson on the short roll was real bad: Anderson passed up a clean jumper and then a clean floater; his hesitation drew two offensive rebound-seeking teammates into the paint, where they couldn’t hope to bail him out; he pump faked himself into worse trouble; he twisted and convulsed in the lane for about four seconds before shooting, which should’ve earned a whistle; he moved both feet, which should’ve been a travel; and of course he missed the dumpy leaner off the front of the rim.
What’s tragic is, if the refs had spotted either of those infractions and blown the whistle, the Grizzlies would’ve had the chance to foul and play the free throw game with at least 10 seconds on the clock. But that’s not what happened. By an incredibly cruel twist of fate, Marc Gasol’s slap-bound came immediately back to Anderson, at the top of the key. All that can account for his subsequent failure to move in any direction is frozen terror—the best he could manage was a jab step at Jokic, and then another jumper. This one, too, missed short.
But all hope was not lost! Anderson followed his shot and snagged the hustle rebound in the corner. His desperation fadeaway, arcing high over the backboard, improbably found its way to the bottom of net, very briefly causing the home fans to leap and scream with joy. The celebration was short-lived, of course—refs blew the play dead before Anderson let go of the shot, because his heels were on the baseline. The Grizzlies fouled to extend the game, but that was that. They lost 95–92. It was Memphis’s 20th loss in their last 24 games.
This was Anderson’s first game since he went down with an ankle injury on January 12, and that sequence was almost certainly the worst of his entire NBA career. The poor man needs a big comforting hug and possibly to be placed in federal witness protection.