I’d now like to perform “Wind Beneath My Wings”, dedicated to Dante Cunningham.
Y’all should be extra glad you can’t hear me singing, ‘cuz it is makin’ the neighborhood dogs howl in pain.
Can a team be ashamed of a win? Well, only sorta.
Follow me past the jump to find out why. To be ashamed, you can do three things:
-The obvious. Blow a 20+ point lead. Teams who should be on the verge of contending do not hang their heads, even under a three-point assault from….COREY BREWER AND ANDRE MILLER? What? Huh? This tells me that it was about more than hot shooting-it was about a lack of work-sharing and accountability on defense. Flat-out self-perpetuating laziness. No closeouts on shooters, no help behind the PG on penetration, and getting WAY outworked in the paint and on the glass. George Karl, who is a phenomenal coach, is one of the few guys in the NBA who can motivate a team to come back from down 23. Brewer’s 26-point-half was the definition of anomalous, to be sure-but when a guy gets hot, no matter the name on the back of his jersey, it’s time to up the pressure, and that did not happen.
-Within the lead-blowing problem, there is the no-name problem. This reminded me of the Grizzlies of ’08-ish vintage, when no-name guys such as CJ Miles made a living making the Griz look like..well..not good. Yes, I as enamored of Faried’s game as the next NBA sucker-but 18 and 10 is just wrong. As with Brewer, when a guy starts outhustling a team’s whole front line, it’s time to put a greater focus on boxing him out.
-Turn the ball over with both forced and unforced errors. The Tony Allen/Mike Conley Yakity-Sax maneuver at the end of Q4 was the worst of it, and the reasoning is disturbing: the Griz no longer have the “we’re young, and sometimes we might lose our poise or place at the end of a close game” excuse as a valid one. Tony Allen has become the Jeremy Lin of the Grizzlies as far as turnovers go, but the things he does on D in the positive column still far outweigh his bobbling out of bounds issues.
But hey, the Griz pulled out the win. Major contributors?
-Finally, again, OJ Mayo. 7-14, no TO’s, and 2 steals. Yep, a shooter shot himself out of a slump, for one game at least. Next game against GSW should provide him plenty chances to get a hot streak going…or it could make us all ask, once again, why we didn’t want Rush in a McBobs trade.
-Rudy Gay did what the Griz need him to do…mostly. It was not odd at all that when Brewer went on his streak of fire, that Gay all of a sudden couldn’t do anything on offense. Didn’t score at all in Q3, and not until it was almost too late in Q4. However, he got the team off to a great start in the first half, and came VERY alive late in the fourth. Yes, Dante was the one who finally got the peanut butter jar open, but Rudy had been workin’ on that lid for a few minutes beforehand. Gay deserves as much credit for the victory as Cunningham. A great line from Rudy-20/8/6, with 3 blocks and only one TO. However…
-…line of the night undoubtedly goes to Marc Gasol. 16/14/8 with a Linlike 7 nasty TO’s. All hustle, plenty floor burns as usual, and his standard quiet brand of quality leadership. He and Gay both had to play 41 minutes, but they were in their own beds last night, and will be again this night. Andris Biedrins has actually come back to life in GSW, so Marc could be in for a mildly tough night against the Warriors-get some rest Marc.
Not the Griz’ best second-half effort of the year, but Dante outworked Faried on the one play that mattered most.
Grizzlies now own tiebreakers over Houston and Denver, and are in the six seed. How odd is that, and how long will it last?