Yes, there was a bit of revenge for the loss a couple of games ago mixed into the recipe, but it was really about clinching a playoff berth, and they did it.
And it was because of that third quarter, now wasn’t it….
Lionel Hollins, halftime motivational speaker. Or maybe a player or two speaking up at the half. Or maybe Rudy Gay just decided to make me look even more silly for using the word “ceiling” in association with his name in this space a couple of weeks ago.
Was that third quarter, with its 20-4 opening Grizz run, the playoff light coming on for real for this team? Pay no mind to what happened in the fourth quarter…it was the very definition of garbage time (featuring…a 15-minute-foulout by Hamed Haddadi).
The stats that tell the story:
-38. That’s the number of FT attempts garnered by the Hornets, with an almost-unbelievable sixteen of them going to a totally new and unproven (but obviously fearless) point guard named Jerome Dyson. It’s not so much that it was a relative nobody, but that the total was so high. With the p-n-r becoming even more of a steady diet as crunch time approaches, keeping lane penetration to a minimum without fouling on every third or fourth defensive possession will be crucial. This “pick and roll defense” thing keeps coming up, doesn’t it???
-26 points, and on only fourteen shot attempts. That’s the kind of efficiency that the Grizzlies will absolutely have to have from Rudy Gay come playoff time. He’s riding a wave for sure, and we hope it doesn’t crest too soon (insert crazy image of Rudy on the north shore of Oahu shooting a tube here). He’s in command of his own game as much as we’ve ever seen it-shooting threes with confidence, going to the hoop (and with Jason Smith getting put on a NASTY poster this night on one occasion), and being more of a leader on offense than we’ve ever seen out of Gay.
-7-14, 3, and 2. OJ with a little comeback game for himself. The 3 and 2 is the big deal-anytime a player has more steals than TO’s is an okay night by me. He may, however, need to contact Brian Cardinal to find out how to best treat floor burns, as he hustled plenty. OJ also played plenty of minutes with varied lineups-good training for how it will be as he moves more solidly into the backup PG position-he’ll need to learn where QPon, Dante, and even Gilbert want the ball to make their best attempt at scoring a hoop.
-<3. That’s the number of turnovers by any Grizzlies player. Only Mayo and Haddadi had more than one, and that’s a great sign-usually, even in a victory, either Mayo, Gay, or one of the big players can range anywhere from 3 to 5 TO’s. Calmness with the ball under pressure is another trait that will come in quite handy over the next couple of weeks (months, maybe??).
No time for tanking-time to keep winning. Don’t want to back into the playoffs. Keep playin’ hard and let the matchups fall as they will….