On the road, back to back, lost an hour, etc., etc., etc.
None of that matters when the players (well, the starters anyway-more on that in a second) all do what they’re supposed to do in a close game.
Up and down game, and the Grizzlies knew when it needed the biggest up.
By no means perfect, though…
Ok. Let’s whine about the bench first. Win, lose, whatever-4-for-19 WILL NOT CUT IT. It is wonderful, bordering on miraculous, that Cunningham played almost twenty minutes and didn’t commit one foul….but it was ‘cuz he was giving up points. OJ has mired himself in one of his patented OJ funks-we know he’ll get out, and we can be happy that Hollins will let him shoot his way out of it-but right now OJ is lucky the slump isn’t a wet paper bag, ‘cuz there’s no way he could shoot his way out of it right now. In a related miracle, none of the Griz starters had to play over 40 minutes-some of the best clock/minute management I’ve seen in a while. Since, like, last night.
Now, about this “Speights” gentleman, who as recently as four or five days ago was an albatross around the neck of the Grizzlies. He was starting, but not staying out there long, and not finishing. This was as ZBO-esque a performance as we’ve seen from any Grizzly not wearing #50 in a long time…especially that tip-in to put the Griz up six with about a minute to go. Z-Bound city. Sometimes he rebounds in positional fashion, and that usually gets him a board or three-but when he combines his positional sense with a real game-long burst of energy, it’s on. Kinda reminds me of an immensely more talented Alexander Johnson, minus the flying limbs.
Rudy Gay is making good on his statement that he’d use his all-star “snub” as motivation. We need to find a way to make this guy just a *little bit* mad every once in a while. The first three of the game, and the halftime buzzer beater. Great stuff, especially since the three brought it back so close after the Griz had been down double digits earlier in the quarter during the Deron Williams show.
Speaking of Deron Williams, that guy is just flat-out good. However, that guy did not score a point after the 7:56 mark of Q3. Couple turnovers, couple misses, and NO CHANCE to hurt the Griz in the end. This speaks to…
Defense, led by our man of the hour, Tony Allen, who was also an…uh..offensive machine? Huh? What? Well, not quite-5 TO’s kinda precludes “offensive machine”-but 8-15 with a huge three late in the game is SG production with which we should all be thrilled. Enough with the offense, though-five steals for Allen, four for Conley, and 12 total for the team. Yes, there were significant lapses-the end of that first quarter was abominable-but the fourth in a close game, similar to the Houston game, is when the D has to step up, and it did so.
Couple minor things:
-23 ast on 41 makes. When the Griz get over 50% FG’s assisted, I get happy. They have the PG and the players to do it, but without ZBo, things still get bogged down from time to time.
-Another GREAT night from the FT line. 17-20 is excellent…and Rudy got to the line six times and made all three. Set the trend, Rudy. Keep it up.
-Griz win the boards, Griz win the game. Once again.
Two tough ones this weekend-can the Griz keep up their winning ways?