Whoof. There’s only so many times one can use the phrase “trap game” before it becomes an excuse for losing (or nearly losing in this case) to a far inferior team.This was yet another “ugly” Grizzlies victory, and despite a wildly out-of-flow kind of feel, the Grizzlies came out on top. Major points to follow…-Free throws, and it was not a problem with the officiating, even with Tony Brothers on the crew. The time to work on a jumpshot is in the gym, not in a game where the Grizzlies should be able to completely dominate the paint. The Wolves were able to get inside and get to the line, and do it often and make the FT’s. 20-22 in the first half, with a supremely even distribution among the team-it wasn’t Barea with 17 and the rest with 5 among them. It was balanced, and it was nutty. The Grizzlies, for their part, went a stellar 1-3 from the line in the first half. Ouch. FT’s were the sole reason this game was close, since….
-…the Grizzlies did hold the Wolves under 36% from the field from the game. The first quarter looked like it could be a nice Griz defensive performance, except that Barea took the Grizzlies’ lunch money for about the next two semesters and did it in twelve minutes. Was it only close because of FT’s or were the Grizzlies lucky that the Wolves threw up a ton of bricks to go with the FT’s? Hmmm…anyway, the thing the Griz did in this game that was the best playoff-tuned performance? The Wolves scored exactly three points in the last 5:40 of the game. Couple timely steals and some nice D against a team hungry to end a seemingly endless losing streak.
-The “closing time” lineup got some more work in together this game, and did what they do. Conley/Mayo/Gay/Randolph/Gasol. Yeeeeaaaahhh. Putting Randolph and Gay to work together when it came time to get some business done on the scoreboard worked wonders, and did what we’ve discussed before-took Gasol and Conley off the hook, and got the two guys who need to fine tune their intertwined play a chance to do so. Put the aforementioned chokehold on the Wolves’ offense, and got points without having to resort to anything crazy. Like, y’know, ISO after ISO. No, this lineup is not a new thing-but if one notices, it’s been coming up more and more, and it’s a smart move for Hollins to get this group time together in close games when it’s really starting to matter. Speaking of starting to matter….
-…ZBO. Another double-double, with more minutes this time-over 30. And judging from the Cardinal-esque dive he made for a loose ball in the closing minutes, fatigue was not an issue. He’s as hungry for the playoffs as any Grizzly save for Rudy, and most encouragingly, his pivot is almost back where it needs to be to make him a valid “over and over again” threat. 16 and 11 in 32 minutes…I’ll take it.
-Conley had a good offensive game, which was good to see-he needs to get himself a streak going headed into the playoffs so that he doesn’t run the risk of the shrinking-violet Conley rearing its unattractive little head in the postseason. 6-12 from the field, with 8ast and only 2 TO. That’s a good PG performance, no matter how crazy JJ Barea may have gone for the opposition.
Another win, and another step closer to consolidating the fifth seed. The playoffs are all but a certainty, but not yet…the Grizzlies still must work on first-rotation help on opposing guard penetration and taking jumpers only from sweet spots. Gotta keep tweaking the engine.