Well, the tape of that one will not be shown as an example of deft and/or accurate shooting for the Grizzlies, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great Grizzly-esque game.
But they’d been averaging over the century mark, you say.
But Marc Gasol had a terrible shooting night, you say.
Well, so what. This was likely my favorite win of the season thus far, because…
…of four simple things:
1) The Grizzlies’ bench gained a ton of confidence this night. The defense they played, particularly Pondexter and Bayless, during that stretch of the fourth quarter was memorable. Sure, the starters choked it up when they came back in, but the run the bench manufactured to put the Grizzlies up 87-75 was just lovely (and quite necessary, as it turned out). The best part? It snowballed. The harder they played, the better they got.
2)Eighteen offensive rebounds. That kind of hustle led to the Grizzlies’ taking 94 shot attempts to the Rockets’ 76. When a team shoots 37% like the Grizzlies did this night, that team had better corral a lot of their own misses to have a chance to win, and the Griz did just that, with Speights leading the way with six offensive boards. No, the Rockets are not the league’s best team, but they do have one of the better rebounders in the NBA in Omer Asik, and the Grizzlies did enough work on the glass to get it done.
3) Fourteen steals and twenty forced turnovers. Another couple of wonderful hustle-stat numbers. Watching the perimeter players gobble up opponents’ passes makes one dizzy with happiness that Tony Allen is around to lead and mentor guys like Pondexter, Conley, Bayless, and Ellington in the fine-but-underappreciated art of “guarding two dudes and stealing the ball whilst doing so”-style perimeter D. Yes, it’s swarming arms-but watch their feet. A few feet away when necessary, but when it comes time to get in the opponent’s jersey, they do it first with feet, then go after the ball. Also in the defensive realm…they shut off the water on Harden big-time. Missed 14 of 18 shots, and took only two FT’s in the second half after going 8-8 in the first half. I LOVE ROOTING FOR A GRIZZLIES TEAM THAT IS SO DARNED GOOD AT DEFENSE.
4) The Grizzlies’ overall ability to overcome major adversity on the offensive end. Marc Gasol had a game the likes of which he’ll likely not have again for a great while. 3-12 with as many fouls as rebounds (four) in over 32 minutes of game time. Only Jerryd Bayless shot 50% for the game, meaning every starter was under that mark (side note for my buddy Zack: can you see who owns tonyallenpleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com?). Conley with only four assists, and the whole team with only sixteen on a paltry 35 made field goals. As I said, not exactly a shining example of the Grizzlies’ offensive machine. But they won, by the execution of three little words, I think we all now what they are by now…and they’re gonna need plenty of those three little words on Sunday when the Heat come to town.