Boy, that’s a long 72 hours when you lose like the Grizzlies did on Monday. L. O. N. G. A generally anemic effort was “rewarded” with a deserved result.
Would the zebras take the blame for another Grizzlies loss?
Could Calathes put together another decent game?
Would I develop a dislike of beards in general?
Seven things, of course, about the game…
Thing one: Not digging themselves a hole in the first quarter. YAY. Sure, the Rockets went to the line a bit, and it wasn’t perfect-but the Grizzlies didn’t give up a 30-point first period. It was hard not to see the offensive dropoff when Conley left, but it wasn’t a disaster. Calathes found Prince for a nice baseline hammer-style jumper to beat the shot clock, but then gave up a nasty turnover to Lin. Trick or treat style. They held the Rockets to 20 in the first, which is nothing short of a miracle. Sure, the run to start the third was something to forget, but they didn’t dig the hold right out of the gate.
Thing two: The starting backcourts. Grizzlies, 12/20. Rockets, 3/22. Even with the onslaught by sometime-maybe-two-guard Chandler Parsons, the Grizzlies’ guards outplayed the Rockets’. It’s good to see Beverley back from the hand injury, as he is my kind of player-tough, pesky, unrelenting-but offensively, he was just not able to get it working. The thirteen assists from Harden show how important he is to the offense, and how much of a focal point he is-but it also shows that if he’s not doing a lot of scoring, he can’t quite lift the team on his own.
Thing three: Gasol looking less and less like his middle name should be Rusty, but he’s still not quite up to speed in the literal sense. Or the figurative one. But a huge win like this one will easily make one forget that he’s still not fully reintegrated.
Thing four: Keeping the Rockets off the three-point line. So much for that one. 14/34 is unacceptable. We pretty much saw a classic case of “oh, boy, now they’ve seen a couple go through”, and the Rockets poured it on in the third quarter. Teams get hot from three, especially teams like Houston and guys like Parsons, but the unacceptable bit comes in when the defense fails to modify what they’re doing to stop the long-range bleeding. When a guy is as full-on nuclear-fission hot as was Parsons, you run two guys at him. Switch his rhythm, make someone else make the shots, and the Grizzlies didn’t do that. Parsons is not so physically gifted as a guy like Lebron or Durant that it doesn’t matter how many guys you throw at him-it just takes a bit more focus to put him in check.
Thing five: James Johnson is legit. His play over the last several weeks is seeming less and less ephemeral. He’s been downright solid on both ends, and perhaps his biggest contribution this game was his playmaking for others-five assists. Sure, he had three TO’s-but for such an athletic wing, giving others the opportunity to score is HUUUUGE. He’s now moved far from “bright light in a dim season who causes overinflated expectations from overeager fans” in the Javarence Kinseyton mold, and has ensconced himself firmly into the “the Grizzlies better retain this cat in the offseason or I’m picketing the FedEx Forum” realm of existence.
Thing six: The bench. Davis, Johnson, et. al. did another good job. Sure, the bench only had 24 points, but the team only had, ahem, 88 total. An efficient 5-8 from Davis with five boards to boot. 12-for-24 overall for the Grizzlies’ bench players compared to 9-for-20 by the Rockets’ reserves. Good stuff.
Thing seven: Victory. Against a SW division opponent, on the road, in a venue that has been historically supremely unkind to the Grizzlies. Yeeeaaahhhh. That’s right.
One random comment: Brevin Knight sounds, on a pretty regular basis, like he’d really love to swap his suit for a uniform and get out there with the team. Tonight, however, he was over the top with desire to get out there and help the team. Love his enthusiasm.