Yep, that’s the way it went. Two good teams, and the better team prevailed.
It was SO BEAUTIFUL to see Kobe get mad at his teammates in Q4 like he used to get mad at the Smush Parkers of the world several seasons ago. He’s still just about the best there is, and to know that our hometown Grizzlies are good enough to push him into such a level of frustration is just satisfying for any fan of the Beale Street Bears.
As always, a few things were key to the outcome:
-same as the Denver game as far as importance to the end result, but a rather pleasant reversal for the Griz. A very welcome 39-28 rebounding advantage for the home team came from good old-fashioned hard work. Marc Gasol and Dwight Howard played almost exactly the same amount of game time, and Marc only had five boards….but Howard only had FOUR. F. O. U. R. Why did Marc only have five? Boxing out a huge dude like that ain’t easy. Rudy Gay also helped greatly on the rebounding front in this Friday night mini-war with 8 for the game.
-In a related story, Pau Gasol has again become the shrinking violet who double-clutched that free throw in game 3 of the Mavs series way back when, and was benched down the stretch of what was a close (-ish) game, and this move by D’Antoni is one that a confessed Laker-hater like myself must love…because it will help widen the chasms of discontent already brewing within the team. I, like many, would be shocked to no end if Pau were not traded at some point, and I’d bet that the Lakers don’t get a guy like Marc Gasol in return when Pau goes. Way to go Chris Wallace. In 27 minutes, Pau was a measly 3-8 with four fouls and 3 TO’s. The Grizzlies wound up with the better Gasol for the Grizzlies’ purposes.
-MIKEHOLYMACKERELCONLEY. Good grief, this kid is tearin’ it up. His progression in terms of in-game, crunch-time poise is nothing short of remarkable. Two huge jumpers in the last two minutes (8-14 overall for the game), 6 ast to only 2 TO, and four more HUGE steals (and one or two more that were taken away by questionable foul calls). His control of the team and ability to see two and three passes ahead of where he and the ball are is becoming a focal point of the Grizzlies’ offense. Having two playmakers as capable as are Gasol and Conley on the floor together is a luxury enjoyed by very few teams.
-Marc Gasol. Is he the best center in the NBA? Rewatch this game and then try to tell me he’s not. I LOVE Roy Hibbert’s game,and he’s a bit more agile on D than Marc…but Marc’s all-around offensive game more than offsets Hibbert’s defensive advantage. Yes, Dwight Howard is a defensive juggernaut on his own…but not tonight. Will the Lakers be able to get someone who can help him offensively in the paint? Should they acquire Josh Smith, they will SURELY not have done so.
-DARRELL ARTHUR HIT A PICK-AND-POP. The universe will now return to order. The Mayans just called, they wanted to let us know that they just ran out of space. No big deal. Sure, ol’ #00 looked a bit lost out there on one or two possessions, but he looked much less lost than one might have expected. No surprise, though, since he’s known as a super hardworking young man. He wasn’t glaringly out of position in his intentionally meager number of minutes, and we were able to see Hollins’ “envisioned” all-bench lineup for a moment or two in the second half. But, speaking of the bench…
-We gotta talk about the bench. Speights played hard, but still hasn’t achieved his full focus on offense or on D. He’s reaching under the goal when fighting for rebounds, he’s fouling in those situations, and he’s been a bit cold from the field. Ellington has been a non-factor-methinks he’s paying the price for that Heat outburst he had, as he’s drawing MUCH more attention from second defenders (not that he’s being doubled, but guys do not leave him even for a second and helpers are never far away). Bayless had a very rough first rotation this game, as did the rest of the bench, but hit a couple key shots and kept his hustle up. Pondexter played hard (and hit what was perhaps the shot of the game, a three, to put the Griz up 91-82 after a barrage of threes from LAL)….but Kobe’s just a tall order for anybody.
This game would not have been close had it not been for the three-point flurry by the Lakers in the fourth (they missed their last five long-range attempts, by the way-wanted too many bites of that apple).
Also, it’s time to give it up to Tony Allen for a stellar, if a bit marred by fouls, game on BOTH ENDS. Getting his offensive engine turning has been a very rough ride, but could he be getting integrated properly? Time will tell.
9-2, Grizzlies fans. Enjoy it
The usual afterthought..ZBo had 17 and 12. He’s just a baaaaaaad man in that lane.