Another in a seemingly interminable series of “biggest game ever” outings for the Grizzlies. But we already knew that.
This game does not pale in comparison to the second half of the b2b awaiting the Grizzlies in Phoenix-log this one as a W, and things get that much easier in terms of making a trip to the postseason.
What we hope is NOT our third-to-last set of seven things:Thing one: Pregame objective, do not let some no-name guy (y’know, Meeks, Kelly, etc.) go off like Durant playing against an AAU team. The Grizzlies mostly succeeded at this, although the case could be made that Wesley Johnson’s 15 and 15 is enough to give Joerger and Co. a nasty case of indigestion. The Lakers’ debilitated state health-wise makes it tough for them to stay with any team with size, and the Grizzlies have size on the inside. Keeping a team with no major names playing to a dull roar as the Grizzlies did this night shows that the team is well aware that nothing is guaranteed.
Thing two: Speaking of knowing that nothing is guaranteed, the energy level of this game was/is easy to track: Grizzlies +20 (!!!!!!!!!!!) on the glass (ok, we know the Lakers are not exactly a team full of Elvin Hayeses), ten steals and seven blocks, and, to harp on the rebound point, a whopping sixteen offensive boards (the Grizzlies rebounded over a third of their own misses). The Grizzlies were forced to take a timeout when the score was 16-10, and the Lakers went up by nine in the second quarter-but the Grizzlies became more consistent on D as the game wore on (microcosm of the season?) and, like in the Sixers game, used a stonewall defense in the third quarter to (pretty much) put away the game.
Thing three: Execution on offense was shaky in the first half and especially first quarter-the ol’ “turn 4” play, a staple Pau will certainly remember, was used to not much effectiveness (the play could also be called “get it to ZBo on the wing and get ready”), and Conley took a little bit to get cooking. When he did, he hit the bottom of the hoop to the tune of 9-12 from the floor and 2-3 from distance with 8 assists to only one turnover. Tony Allen’s offensive…”contribution” in the first half was not exactly the stuff of dreams with a lot of missing from near and far, and the Lakers established early on that they had no plans to let Randolph rule the court-he was held to only 4-8 from the field, but he had maybe the coolest Grizzly assist of the season on a behind-the-back lob-ish pass to Calathes for a layup.
Thing four: Free throws. Make ’em! Sorta sad that we’re all thrilled with a 10-13 (77%) outing for the Grizzlies, but we are, aren’t we?
Thing five: As the (hopefully reached) playoffs approach, the Grizzlies need to continue to make sure to feed the beasts, and a 20-for-36 night from the Grizzlies’ big three guys satisfies what needs to come from Gasol/ZBo/Conley on a nightly basis. Conley posted the gaudy 24 points, but Gasol used his size well to post fifteen rebounds (four offensive), and dominated the Lakers inside (ok, except maybe Jordan Hill, who’s not as bad as some might tell you).
Thing six: Bench players of the game? Miller for doing what he does…but Ed Davis played with tremendous energy on both ends, posting nine boards and three blocks in under twenty minutes of game time. We’re not gonna bug him for his 2-8 from the field-he got stuck holding the hot potato with a short shot clock once or twice, and the shots he took were shots within his range and ability.
Thing seven: Victory by inexorable defensive execution. As we all heard on the TV broadcast, the Grizzlies stopped the Lakers nine consecutive times…twice. In one game. And guess what? They should. The Lakers are a shorthanded team with a dearth of skilled big men (although the Lakers matched the Grizzlies in paint scoring for a decent portion of the game), and when the jump shooters are covered, they are easily stopped.
Tomorrow’s game in Phoenix. IT’S THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON…one more time.