Tonight was the night the Memphis Grizzlies looked like the Grizzlies that fans have come to love as they defeated the Denver Nuggets 120-99. The Grizzlies bench would have a season high of 62 points tonight, including four bench players reaching double figures (Ed Davis 17, Jerryd Bayless 15, James Johnson 14, and Mike Miller 11). Johnson would be the crowd favorite as he came off the bench to score 14 points (5-of-7 FG) to go along with seven rebounds and six assists.
Memphis reached the 120-point mark for the first time since scoring 128 points against Sacramento on Jan. 21, 2012. The 120 points scored by the Grizzlies are a season-high and the second-most allowed by the Nuggets this season.
Memphis would dominate the boards with 46 rebounds to Denver’s 25 in tonight’s game. The Nuggets came into night as the second-best rebounding team in the NBA, averaging 46.6 boards per game.
Whether fans want Johnson to be the starter or come off the bench the man can flat-out play with this Grizzlies team. He has brought so much energy that this team has desperately needed. He continues to make plays, hustles for rebounds and steals, and he is a key shooter. Johnson has learned the Grit and Grind style of basketball very quickly in Memphis.
“When I’m out there playing, I’m playing for the feel. I just feel like I’m playing as hard as I can. I feel like everybody’s playing as hard as they can,” Johnson said after the game.
The past couple of games for the Grizzlies with New York, Utah, Houston, and tonight with Denver it seems as though the Grizzlies are finding their chemistry back. You saw players get the ball to their inside presences of Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos. The team was also able to spread the ball and make great outside shots.
Memphis shot .516 (47-of-91 FG) on the night. The Grizzlies are now 21-2 dating back to the beginning of last season when shooting .500 or better from the field.
“There wasn’t a lot of friction so we came out and played. It was definitely two different halves for us defensively. In the second half, we were much more active,” Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger said.
One of the major positives from tonight’s game goes to the three-point shooting from the Grizzlies. The reserves shot 7-of-13 from three-point range tonight (.538). Memphis entered tonight ranked second in the NBA in three-point shooting off the bench (.399). Many people in Grizz Nation hopes these high numbers continue throughout the season.
“I think everybody’s played a little bit better. After we stepped up defensively, we had a couple of break outs in the first half, and then the second half we were able break those, and once we played defense our offense became contagious,” Bayless said on playing better as a team.
One negative note I will draw out from this game is that Tony Allen continues to make unnecessary shots. He missed two easy lay-up at the beginning of the game and right at the end of the first half he gets a wide open look for three and airballs it. There’s a reason why teams leave him wide open for three.
In the end this is a very much-needed win for this team after dealing with many struggling loses and injuries. There’s still plenty of basketball left and it looks like this team is starting to find their chemistry.