Ok, now that we’ve all caught our breath from that ankle tweak for Big Spain…let’s look at all the other stuff that happened in this game.
YET ANOTHER “biggest game ever” for the Grizzlies, as they’ve (thankfully, after the start to the season the Grizzlies had) all been over the last several weeks.
More than seven things would be easy, but after the near-pulse-interruptor the Tigers just gave us (GO TIGERS GO), let’s stick at seven…
Thing one: The Heat have that one guy, can’t recall his name…whoever he is, he sure waited a while to show up, didn’t he? Whom should we thank for that? Mr. Much-Maligned himself, Tayshaun Prince. Somehow, even with the back spasms, he got within a loud yell of a triple-double.
Thing two: The (tip o’ cap to Brevin Knight) Brothers From Another Mother, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Although Gasol’s night was curtailed by the ankle injury, the two combined for 39 points on only 31 shots, with 20 rebounds between them. It could be said, however, that the Heat did what they knew they needed to do to win-let Randolph and Gasol get work done inside, but not leave Mike Miller/Courtney Lee/Tony “cutter” Allen alone inside or out to do damage. And to that point…
Thing three: …Lee, Conley, Allen, and Miller combined to go 10-35 for the game. Yowie. That stings. Credit has to go to Dwayne Wade’s defense (it’s the most fun aspect of his game to watch these days, for sure) and to Spoelstra for knowing how to keep the Grizzlies under 90 points. The Heat defense impeded cuts and screens by these guys starting around the elbow extremely well, and contested enough perimeter shots to keep Conley and Co. from getting confident.
Thing four: Come on, you’re glad to see Oden playing in the NBA. Any other night, I’d have been glad to see him dunk once or twice, slap back a couple shots, and generally display functional knees. Just not tonight.
Thing five: Back to Randolph. Touchy fouls and such be darned, this was perhaps his most motivated performance of the last two months. The other side of that coin, though, is…yep, y0u guessed it-such a supremely motivated performance by such an important player should not stand out as did this one. It will bear watching, starting tomorrow against the Pacers, if ZBo can use this game as a springboard to up his game as the regular season winds down, especially if (please Lord no) Gasol misses any time.
Thing six: Thankfully, it’s been a long time since the words “turnover” and “too dang many” have fit together to describe a Grizzlies game. This night, however, they fit together like “Grateful Dead” and “tie-dye”. It’s what the Heat do, no doubt-the Heat defense was very able to “breathe” back into the lane lines to stop cuts and penetration and cut off what is a big part of the Grizzlies’ offense.
Thing seven: That 16-4 run to close the third quarter was the death knell. A three by Cole, a three by Allen, couple other shots…and some ridiculously disruptive defense by the Heat took it from 64-52 to 68-all in a few short minutes. In a monster game against the champs, a few minutes’ worth of lapse is all it takes. Yes, the Grizzlies did hold a short, small lead in Q4, but that momentum shift capped by the putback by the Technoviking to close Q3 made it impossible for the Grizzlies to hold on, especially without Gasol.
No easier task at the Forum-the Pacers are flying in from Chicago, and will be ready for the Grizzlies. Should be a terrific, physical game.