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Going into tonight’s game, the most points allowed in a half this season by the Grizzlies defense was 61. Tonight, the Cavs scored 65 in the first half.

A tale of two halves is becoming the norm for these Grizzlies. For whatever reason (new rotation and set lineup maybe?), the past five games have included defensive breakdowns one half and acceptable to elite defense in the other half.

Tonight, the Cavs opened up the first quarter with an 18-6 run that had the Grizzlies a bit on their heels. Both teams were playing their second game of a back to back, so no “tired” excuse would be accepted.

By the end of the first quarter the Cavs were up 30 to 22 over the Grizzlies (helped by a made desperation half court heave by Marc Gasol  as the quarter expired) and expanded the lead to 65-54 by halftime.

Cleveland out rebounded Memphis 20-13 in the first half, got to the basket at will (28 points in the paint) and shot 13/21 field goals outside the paint including 4/9 from three.

The Grizzlies weren’t too shabby offensively either, though, scoring 28 points in the paint, 8/21 outside the paint including 5/10 from three.

The problem, however, was defense. The Grizzlies could not get stops. As a matter of fact, in the entire first half, the Cavs scored on 31 of their 47 possessions.

Zach Randolph struggled in the half scoring 6 points on 3/7 shooting and Mike Conley’s struggles continued as he also had 6 points on 3/8 shooting. Tony Allen (10), Courtney Lee (11), and Marc Gasol (15) led the Grizzlies in scoring. The Grizzlies managed to turn the Cavs over 6 times leading to 10 points.

Well, then came the second half, what some on Twitter and the post game radio call in show dubbed a “turning point of the season.”

I don’t know if I would go that far, however, after allowing 35 points in the entire second quarter, the Grizzlies handcuffed the Cavs to 31 points in the entire second half, while scoring 56.

Coach Joerger made some PnR defensive switches at halftime and those changes stopped the “enter at will” penetration of the Cavs into the paint. The Cavs managed four points in the paint in the 3rd quarter. The Grizzlies forced 7 Cavs turnovers which lead to 11 points in the third frame and only surrendered the ball once.

After Kyrie Irving hit a crossover step back three over Courtney Lee to make the score 73-63 Cavs, Zach Randolph would put the Grizzlies on his back scoring 13 points on 6/8 shooting and grabbing 6 rebounds. In the third quarter the Grizzlies grabbed 11 boards to the Cavs 4 and surged ahead 87-80 helped by 18 points in the paint and 8-10 from the FT line.

Tony Allen locked down Kyrie Irving. Tayshaun Prince kept Loul Deng in check. ZBO dominated Tyler Zeller. Mike Conley went 2-2 from the field and 4-4 from the FT line to score 8 points and you felt like the sleeping bear was asleep no more.

In the fourth quarter, however, the Cavs would not go away. They put up a fight, surging to within one point with 4:03 to go, 95-94.

At this crucial point in the game, Coach Joerger decided to ride his starters, who produced the big swing in the third quarter, the rest of the way. Many, including myself, questioned the rationale of his decision. However, as he has done before, he proved us wrong as the starters would go on a 15-2 run to close the game, seal the deal and set off the streamer canons.

Grizzlies won, 110-96, and since there were no other competing playoff teams in action tonight, no scoreboard watching was necessary. The Grizzlies pulled to within 1 game back of Phoenix now with 24 games left to play.

The announced attendance for the game was 17,011.

Final Box Results:
Final Box Score

Post-game Audio:
Coach Joerger Press conference
Tony Allen post-game
Marc Gasol post-game

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One Response to Grizzlies handcuff Cavs in second half, win 110-96

  1. […] is playing solid ball as of late (7-3 record in their last 10 games), and pounded Cleveland on Friday night, 110-96. Both the Grizzlies and the Wizards possess almost identical offense and defense […]

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