Well, I’d been thinking a players-only meeting was coming, and hearing ZBo’s comments to Rob Fischer after the game, sounds like Hollins smartly (and angrily, I’d say) let one happen at the half of the Jazz game. ZBo said (roughly) “he didn’t do too much talkin’-he came in the room, said this is some (baloney), and walked out.” Good job coach. Sometimes the biggest kick in the rear is the one that doesn’t really happen.
These two games illustrated several things that are good about the Grizzlies, and several that are not so good. Let’s play point/counterpoint….
Point: The Grizzlies can dominate a game inside, as they did against the Jazz, especially in that second half. A 28-10 third-quarter advantage for the Griz, and a return to the interior spacing that allows Gasol and Randolph room to work. The perimeter players woke up, and made sure to leave space in the lane by a greater margin than they had in the preceding losses, letting the big guys have the room to drive to the dotted-line area for a shot or interior pass. Was it better for that stretch of the fourth when Rudy was on the bench? DO NOT OVERINFLATE THE IMPORTANCE OR SCOPE OF THAT COMMENT, unless it seems fun to do so.
Counterpoint: Conley and Gasol are the wheels that turn the offense, duh. What Conley must understand is that the sooner he directs traffic into the set, the quicker he’ll be moving, and the quicker his teammates move to set picks, make cuts, and get in position for the shot or rebound. He’s been in a slump as far as running the team goes lately, and he’s gotta understand that he’s the one that makes it work. The alternate point-guard idea (not a bad one, IMO, but it ain’t gonna be Bibby) is a good one, since despite the eleven-assist explosion from Bayless in the Denver game, he’s just better suited playing off the ball. Which is ok. Will it be ok with him? We will see, and if it’s not, well, whatever. Gasol has been trying to get the team unstuck from the mud in which it’s been mired on offense by passing and facilitating, which has led to an uneasy amount of overpassing by Gasol (and not just that one where he passed up the wide-open FT line jumper). We all saw what happened when he started heading for the hoop again-the Grizzlies took over the game. He’s gotta shed the last bit of that deferential Gasol DNA and be the man.
Point: Offensive rebounding continues to be a strength for the Grizzlies. A 16-7 advantage in the Nuggets loss, and an 18-7 advantage over the Jazz. Positioning and effort. ZBo, as we all know, is a benchmark offensive rebounder. Tip-ins get you 1-1 with a rebound, baby.
Counterpoint: Why, yes, when you send guys to the offensive glass, you will give up a lot of transition points and generally look very bad on highlight reels. Balance? Gotta find it. The problems that the Grizzlies have against long, athletic big men are exacerbated when the Grizzlies lose an offensive rebound. Guys like Javale McGee can make the Grizzlies look really bad on runouts. We all love the old-school big-man-beat-em-up style of the Grizzlies, but there are problems to overcome when such a squad encounters a team with one or more fast pogosticks (i.e. the Nuggets).
Players meriting mention:
-ZBo’s defense against Jefferson. He put out the effort, and it worked. Nothing succeeds like success.
-Haddadi with his usual per-minute rebound monstrosity…but boy, is he a liability in every single other aspect of the game. Still wishin’ that Jordan kid from camp would have stuck, and that the Griz brass could have seen what he was able to do before signing Haddadi to a deal.
-Tony Allen has been calming down with the ball. Love that. He’s not totally useless on offense, but the occasional spotup and the occasional slash is plenty.
Two very winnable games against teams from the Eastern conference coming up. Time to make some hay, Grizzlies.