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Two wins in a row, and Marc Gasol continues to prove his all-star worth.

The Pacers are a very good team this season, and they’re a bit similar to the Griz (except they have both of their main post threats-not to belittle Speights’ contribution, but he’d be the first to tell ya ZBo and Gasol are the top dogs). Good defense, a jittery-quick PG, and a tall scoring PF with inside and outside ability.

Likely one of the better team wins of the year, with the usual suspects sharing the spotlight in the fourth.

The Griz won despite being double-digit-minus on the boards…really? How? Here’s how….THEY TRADED THEIR WHOLE TEAM FOR JEREMY LIN, RIGHT????

No, not exactly, but that guy’s likely getting mentioned in every piece of basketball anything being published in cyberspace, and I’m as blown away as the next person.

Ok, back to the Griz. Five important things that stood out:

-74 total free throws. Good Lord. I’m going to resist, mostly, whining about how ridiculous those two calls were on Dante Cunningham (whoops, I guess I didn’t resist too well) and say that the officiating was a bit odd, but actually fairly even (see what I did there?). Did the crew get together and decide they were gonna keep it tight, with two physical teams on the docket? That would actually make sense, so we know that didn’t happen. This is, after all, the WWE NBA. In any case, the FT’s were exactly evenly divided, so there’s not really a lot of room to complain either way.

-Rudy’s most confident game of recent weeks shooting-wise, and it was great to see. Every single make was important, and he managed to group several of them into VITAL spots in the contest. The dunk and-one in Q4 was huge, as it turned out that the Griz needed every bit of separation that that hoop helped them gain. The strong-side-overload with Rudy reverse cut worked wonderfully, and he also had is ISO game working, helping to get Granger in foul trouble and keep George from going nuts on offense. He had a decidedly poor game on the boards, but we’ll forgive it. I will once again predict that he explodes for a 30+ with 10+ rebounds soon.

-Marc Gasol. Taking the team on his back might not be the first thing you think when you see his stat line, but he did it. He and Conley initiated, it seemed, every single Griz possession in the game, and the other three played off their action well. He took Hibbert to school, kept him away from the basket, and didn’t let the Pacers’ offense do the same to him. 3 blocks, 4 assists, and ZERO turnovers.

-Speights got the Griz going in Q1, and that was huge-had the Pacers been able to establish a sizable lead in the first half, this game would likely not have turned out in the Griz’ favor. 19 and 9 with a couple steals (and one horrid flop that would have made Ginobli himself blush) is what the Griz will need from him until ZBo gets back. In contrast to the Wolves game, Speights showed more reliance on hustle and energy this game, whereas his glasswork in that game was about position. However it works is fine with me.

-Return of the Grindmaster. 23 minutes, which is not far from as much as he’ll usually play, with no apparent physical limitations. 8 rebounds, a couple nice buckets, and his usual ability to effectively guard an entire pick and roll by himself.

Honorable mention tonight to Haddadi-might not sound like much, but 5 minutes with no fouls and no turnovers is a nice game for this guy, and I’m not being sarcastic. Get in there, play some D, make a NIIIICE dish to Speights for an and-one (huh? really? yeah). Make use of your time on court.

Strange start time Sunday, for ESPN-8:30 CT against the Jazz. Three in a row will be tough, but it can be done. Jefferson and Millsap will be a tall order for Gasol and Speights, but perhaps the Griz will be extra ready to avenge their earlier loss at Utah…

 

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