Who: Memphis Grizzlies (21-20), Houston Rockets (28-16)
When: Saturday, January 25th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Watch and Listen: Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Discuss: 3SOB Twitter/Forum, Grizzlies Message Boards
Well this seems a bit familiar, doesn’t it? The Grizzlies look to wrap up the season series against the Rockets tonight, by bringing it even to piggyback on top of a doozy of a performance last night. 3 Shades of Blue’s own Matt Noe said it best in last night’s wrap up, by characterizing the game as “Strange ending, lovely result.” In case you missed it, Chandler Parsons had what some of us like to call an out of body experience on the court, connecting on 10 of 11 three point attempts in the second half, salvaging a first half that could be summed up by the Rockets shooting just 1-14 from beyond the arc. Still, the Grizzlies managed to hold on in classic fashion, by getting a key stop in the final possession.
Expected Starting Lineups
Mike Conley vs Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley seriously had a hard time last night trying to get his offense going. He found it difficult getting his shot off against some tough defensive pressure by Mike Conley, but he also missed a few wide open three point attempts in his time out there. Last night was not the most prolific night for Conley either, as he continues to try to re-acclimate himself to co-running the offense with Marc Gasol, after pretty much holding down the fort for a month and a half. He didn’t get to the line any, and only mustered three assists, but he hit more of his shots than he missed, with two of them coming from downtown.
Courtney Lee vs James Harden
Sure James Harden had 13 assists last night, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll take it. The Courtney Lee/James Johnson time share did exactly what it had to on Harden last night, and that was to avoid putting him on the line. Harden put up just 6 free throw attempts, about 3 less than his season average, while going just 2-11 from the floor. Even better is that one of the two was Conley just giving it to him on the fast break. On the other side of the court, Lee was again fantastic, going 6-9 for 19 points, while staying perfect from the stripe in a Grizzlies uniform. All this being said, while I’m going to enjoy the heck out of the outcome of this game, it’s hard to expect Harden to stay this mellow two nights in a row.
Advantage: Houston. Grr, again.
Tayshaun Prince vs Chandler Parsons
Poor Tayshaun is going to reap the sweeping majority of the blame for Chandler Parsons’ three point outbreak, but looking back at the tape, it wasn’t all his fault. Parsons’ performance was the result of the cosmic marriage of his combustibly hot stroke in the second half, and overall poor defensive rotation on Memphis’s part. Looking back at the game tape, of the 10 three point bombs that he landed, four occurred with Prince guarding him — two of which Prince deserved to give up, and the other two were straight up heat check threes with Prince draped all over him. Of the six non-Tayshaun-defended three pointers, a handful were the result of his defender either getting lost on the screen, lazy off-ball rotation by his man (Johnson got caught over-helping on Harden one of the times and barely made an attempt to get back to Parsons) or Nick Calathes missing his rotation because he fell down. Stay glued to him this time. My blood pressure depends on it.
Zach Randolph vs Terrence Jones
Randolph was a bit of an enigma last night. On the one hand, he shot just 35% from the field, but on the other, he was a +7 for the game, and baited Dwight Howard into all sorts of foul trouble, which in and of itself is likely worth partial credit for the victory. Terrence Jones had a very modest, inconsequential return from his thigh injury, with the real high point coming from one of the higher-arching desperation three point heaves that I’ve seen in some time. Houston was fond of cross-matching the big men last night, and the Grizz are going to have to exploit Gasol’s size advantage over Jones this time around if the Rockets decide to do so again.
Marc Gasol vs Dwight Howard
Third game against Memphis this year for Howard, and third game that he gets destroyed by foul trouble. We can whine all we want (trust me I do my fair share) about the foul calls that Harden gets, but it at least makes it a little bit sweeter to see the ultimate whiner, Mr. Howard, struggling to keep his hands to himself against Mr. Randolph when cross-matched between the post positions, and getting called out on it. Still, Marc has been terribly quiet since his return, and Dwight is sadly and likely due for a true “Dwight Howard” game against the good guys, right?
Neither team really dug all that deep into their bench last night, as the Grizzlies saw Jon Leuer rack up a DNP while Kosta Koufos put up a quiet four minutes and change, and the Rockets didn’t have much of a choice, with injuries clouding the bottom half of their roster. Regardless, both teams looked to the bench for an injection of energy, as James Johnson brought his usual 2 blocks, a steal, and energizing dunk to the table, while Jeremy Lin hopped in on the other side to effectively spell the struggling Beverley. On a back-to-back night against the same team, I’d expect the benches to get more run in this one, especially if one team gets out to a big early lead.