Wow. That’s all that can really be said.
Sure, it got ugly toward the end, and the turnovers were far too numerous-but “finding ways to hold a lead and win” is fitting for the way it’s going for the Griz right now.
Three simple things earned the Grizzlies yet another win over a quality opponent…
-Rebounding. A nice +12 against a team with a couple of pogosticks for a starting frontcourt, and a wily vet (KMart) who can grab rebounds in quantity given the right circumstances. Deandre Jordan went more than a bit nuts for 14 and 14, but the rest of the team? Squashed by a bunch of large brown bears. Four of five Griz starters had at least six boards, and ZBo had twelve off the bench. All about positioning, which is all about hard work. Speights and Randolph, in particular, showed that they’d studied game tape and knew the tendencies of their opponents. Gasol, as he has been many times, was the difference-maker. Directing every bit of defensive traffic in the lane and watching for the ball to bounce off the rim while using the eyes in the back of his head to know where to send the outlet. A top-three center? It’s an argument, anyway.
-Chris Paul’s not-insane game. Several Grizzlies wound up guarding one of the NBA’s top three PG’s, and Paul’s line of 19 pts/6ast/3stl sounds great-but that assist number is far below his average, and there’s a reason why: the Grizzlies clogged up his passing lanes and decimated (s)lob city’s population if only for one night. As with the rebounding, much of the credit for this goes to preparation by the players and defensive coach Dave Joerger. Yes, it helped that Nick Young and Randy Foye went a combined 5-22…a pg’s assist number will surely go down when two of his scoring aces can’t hit-but why couldn’t they hit? Foye was not getting clear alleys and wide open threes, and Nick Young took one of the worst shots I’ve ever seen, a three he launched from somewhere near Beale and Riverside Drive.
-More bench, please. Six guys in double figures, with two of those being bench players. Grizzlies bench outrebounded CLips bench 17-8. Outscored the visitors 31-15. Hustle. Plain and simple. Yes, OJ and for-now-starter-but-really-bench-player Pondexter each made a boneheaded play allowing the Clippers to make the game closer than it should have been late-but to counter that,two guys who barely played, Dante and Haddadi, failed to miss a field goal between them. Sure, it was only 3 fg’s-but as close as this game became, every single one counted.
It feels SO GOOD to type this: ZBo with his third consecutive double-double, and no one even noticed. He’s almost back to machine-level production. It’ll be a shame to take those points away from the bench, but it’ll have to happen soon.
Rudy Gay with six points in the final moments of the game. Not as gaudy a line as last game, but plenty of important, tangible contributions on offense and defense.
Conley was his steady self-no doubt it took away from his offense having to stay with CP3, but only one turnover in over 33 minutes, with many of those minutes coming against an elite defensive PG.
The train is rollin’. Can’t slip up against PHX. The Suns are hungry for a playoff spot and playing very well…but the Griz NEED some revenge against them. Win, win, win no matter what….