First off, Pelicans isn’t *that* bad. Won’t say it might be my favorite pro sports team name, but it’s better than some.
How about combining the two..”New Orleans Stinging Pelicans”, anyone?
Ok. The game. For a second straight outing, the Grizzlies played down to the competition, although there was one thing that was a bit of rarity…
…Lionel Hollins got lucky in that second quarter. Had the Grizzlies not rained threes like the 05-06 Suns, that stretch of small ball with Rudy and Speights at PF and C could have spelled major trouble. As it turned out, the Grizzlies needed every bit of that 12-point halftime lead to come out ahead at the final horn. During that period, the Grizzlies’ interior D truly suffered, with the Hornets able to execute pick-and-roll and pick-and-slip plays to get by Speights again and again. . It actually played into the Hornets’ hands, with Rudy Gay having to hang out with Ryan Anderson very far from the goal at the “stretch 4″ positions, wing and corner. Although leaving Speights on an island may not have been the best thing to do, such was a necessary evil. Hollins is very good at reading game flow, and he knew the gamble he was taking-and it took long-range gunning to make the gamble pay off.
Will Quincy Pondexter’s hot streak continue? Not as hot as this night, with a perfect 6-6 from the field, but it does seem that he’s finding his spots. The Hornets were not able to adjust perimeter D to compensate for his fiery shooting, as the Pelicans, like many NBA teams, were so alert to the Grizzlies’ formidable paint offense that the digging back by perimeter guys and one-step-too-slow follows of guys like QP led to open looks galore. Also, it did seem that Pondexter had a bit of extra gunpowder in the barrel for the team who traded him last Christmas.
Last game, 50-32 rebounding advantage for the Grizzlies despite a turnover deficit. This game, a 46-29 advantage despite a 12-16 turnover deficit. Not statistical hallmarks of an elite, balanced team-but the hallmarks of a team that can win under a variety of self-imposed clouds in execution. The rebounding, once again, was anchored by Gay/Gasol/Zbo, as one might expect, with 24 boards among the three. Miscommunication and a lack of focus led to the turnovers, along with, of course, some sprightly defense from the Hornets.
Also, Rudy Gay and Mike Conley. It’s easy to look at this game and say Rudy was the sole reason for the win, and 28/8/5 with a couple of highlight-reel blocks does merit a ton of credit-but Conley’s 9ast/1TO ratio with FIVE steals is just as big a factor-more steady production from a once-much-maligned still-young PG.
Oh no, Randolph had “only” 15 and 7 with a steal and a block. What a slacker. When 15 and 7 is a “subpar night”, you know you’re set at the PF position.
Gasol, Arthur, and Speights all had their rough spots, and with any luck, they’ll get good rest tonight, because Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Co. hit the FedEx Forum with the rest of the Hawks to test the Grizzlies on a back-to-back.