How often does it happen that a team seems to play better as a unit during a loss than in a win?
Well, it seemed to happen over this pair.
Two grinders, one loss, one win.
Couple thoughts on a couple players, couple superb performances, and one VERY COOL stretch in the Philly game….
-Rudy still isn’t all the way out of his own head, and we’re too far down the road for this to be about “reintegration” or some such. However, the two threes he hit in Q4 against the Sixers along with some late-game prime-time scoring during the recent briefly-interrupted win streak show that he’s ready to do what the team needs him to do. Will it continue to work out when ZBo gets back? I’d put forth a mild yes-both players are all about winning, and there’s not enough ego with either of them for it to go south due to one of them wanting to be the sole King of the Grizzly Hill. Rudy with only 3 turnovers in these two most recent games combined is a wonderful trend-what he’s done is to display a bit more control on the offensive end, and a few plays that might otherwise have been turnovers…he’s actually started to get the benefit of the whistle. Who would have thought that? Risky play on D, but is that bad in and of itself, or does it show more trust in the other four guys playing D with him?
-Kyle Lowry’s month is now complete, he won a game against the Griz. Why this cat still treats every Griz game as a grudge match, I’ve no idea-but he does so, no doubt about it. Also, he’s really good. Better than Conley? Apples to oranges. Kyle is a tougher defender, as he showed Monday night in Houston-but Conley definitely has the catlike side of things covered as compared to Lowry. Finishing in the lane? Conley, over the last couple of seasons, has brought himself easily into a zone of equality with Lowry in that aspect of the game. Conley didn’t have two of his best games over these two, for different reasons. Seven-for-thirteen in one game, but only 4-14 in the other. It would seem like the better-shooting night would be the win, huh? No. Weird, but ok. Weirder? Conley with the monster (-ously meaningless) + 26 in the win over Philly. Shows how one-dimensional the Sixers were when Holiday was making all his points.
-Cunningham. No player the Griz employ more personifies “embracing a role” than does Dante. Observation compels me to call him the spring-loaded spider, and that’s great-since that is what the Griz need him to be and what they hired him to be. 3-5 with 7 boards in under 20 minutes in the Philly win, with every board seeming like a big one. Players like him are the reason the Griz can stay close on the boards and generate extra possessions.
Ok. Marc Gasol is amazing, and anyone who would DARE debate whether he belongs in the All-Star Game should be forced to watch the Philly game over and over. Yes, he was playing against a mismatch most of the night…and that’s all the more reason that his performance this night should be looked at as spectacular. Everyone knew where the ball was going, it went there, and Gasol did not once fold under the pressure. I predicted as soon as ZBo went down that Gasol, not Rudy, Conley, or Allen, would become the leader of the team, especially on the court-and that prediction has come to full fruition. 15 and 14, 7 ast, 5 blk, and only 2 TO. That’s just absurdly ridiculously awesome. Usage rate? Looks down on Everest. Team’s trust in him? High as the moon, and ZBo’s coming back soon. It might just get crazy after the break. Gasol was also part of something really, really cool that Hollins did in the Philly game…
-…the International Twin Towers. Haddadi and Gasol at the same time, with hardly a Sixer over 6’8″ on the floor. No, the Griz didn’t go on a crazy run during that stretch of a few minutes-but rebounds? All Griz, and Haddadi was able to gain some confidence on offense, playing against guys half a foot shorter than he. This lineup, with Gasol playing one of the weirdest “stretch 4″ positions in basketball history, could be advantageous against teams who can be big but not all that athletic inside (Spurs, I’m looking at you), or against teams who are full of undersized guys like the Sixers.
A great way to coast into the All-Star break. Will Z-Bo hit the once-predicted March 2 return date? Only time will tell.
In any case, get ready for a nail-biting second half of the season.
Wow I’m glad that stupid lockout got solved…..