Darn it, Doron Lamb, why’d you have to hit that shot? I wanted to be able to write that the Grizzlies held a second consecutive opponent under 80 points. Oh well.
This game should not have been this close…the Grizzlies played STELLAR defense for almost the whole game (more on that in a moment), but there were a couple things that interrupted the team’s effort…
As against most opponents, the Grizzlies held a large perceived advantage in the paint going into the game. Duh. I dig both Mbah A Boute and Sanders just fine, but against Gasol and Zbo, they were overmatched. The steal on the interior pass by the Bucks on the Griz’ first possession of the game made me queasy, but once the home team figured out how to space themselves reasonably, they were able to work in the paint and, more importantly, dominate the glass. The Grizzlies’ starting frontline, as the are wont to do, pulled down almost 40 rebounds between the three of them. Special super-duper high-five goes to Marc Gasol-he picked up two fouls in the first few minutes of the game, came back in for the second quarter, played, and played, and played…and didn’t pick up his third until halfway through the fourth. That, my friends, is the sign of a man who knows how to play smart and let his teammates help him.
Trick or treat, Tony…trick: 3-11 from the field, with a couple TA-misses-the-bunny cringe-inducers thrown in. Treat: four huge steals, with some of the smartest doubling/digging back onto the Bucks’ iffy post players one could expect. Trick: several fast breaks that TA led with all the genteel affect of a charging rhino on speed. Treat: The Grindfather absolutely STARVED OUT Monta Ellis’ potent offensive game. There were other Grizzlies involved on Ellis, but TA was the one most responsible for holding him to a wonderfully un-Monta-ish 1-14 (!!!) from the field and only TWO measly FTA’s. Shut. Off. That. Water.
Speaking of tricks and/or treats, the Grizzlies’ bench has definitely been a rollercoaster ride this year, with a few more valleys than peaks…but this game, they did what they had to do and more. The reserves were responsible for 31 of the team’s 90 points, with Marreese Speights helping out a ton when Gasol got in his early foul trouble. Pondexter’s activity was very nice, and Bayless played off the ball with Conley for a short stretch and showed poise around the middle of the fourth quarter when the Bucks started high-trapping college-style every time the Griz brought the ball up. 10 and 6 with two blocks for Speights was just what the team needed from him.
Amongst all the sorry shooting and rugged defense, the Grizzlies had 26 assists on 36 makes. I LOVE THAT. Efficiency of ball movement is ever-more important in a struggle game such as this one, and a nice balanced stat line from Rudy Gay is perhaps the best example of this from tonight-13 points, 8 boards, but most importantly, 5 assists. Great stuff from Rudy, which was good…since he (and the whole team, really) missed more dunks in one game in my addled memory can recall.
Hey…Zach Randolph had 15 and 17. Huh. Weird, he never does stuff like that. HAHAHAHA.
Great game, but this weekend’s southwest division back-to-back will tell us a lot…can the chameleon Grizzlies come out to play?