Well, who wasn’t concerned when the game was so close in the first quarter, thinking that the GSW victory two days ago might have been only a flash in the pan? I was, and you should have been too.
However, the new old Grizzlies came out to play, with some newer bears joining the fray, and wiped out the Timberwolves….with a minor removal of the foot from the gas in the fourth.
This game’s lucky seven things?
Thing one (always makes me wanna read my kid a Dr. Suess when I write these things…): Bench scoring and activity. Bayless had a bit of a rough first rotation with a couple fouls, and had his double-digit streak stopped, but the rest of the bench came on strong. Austin Daye had another nice scoring game, and it was more than just that he scored. Check out his fourth quarter shot chart – those two made threes were huge in preventing any further nail-biting than the minor nibbling that may have occurred, and those spots are primo Austin Daye off-center three spots (if we can know that such spots exist, anyway). He’s fitting in and earning minutes. Will Daye be another Grizzly reclamation success story? WAY too early to say, but at least he’s tall. Ed Davis’ posterization of Pek is not to be overlooked, and Wroten had seven with 3 ast and ZERO turns in ten minutes. 38 total bench points.
Thing two: Defense. Tony Allen. Whirling dervish, Tasmanian devil, etc., etc., etc.
Thing three: Darrell Arthur had another disappointingly invisible game. Made a shot or two, but didn’t have the impact we’re used to seeing. Could it be that he doesn’t have to make it now, or is he intentionally leaving space for the new guys if/when he shares the court with them? Bears watching as time passes. Still waiting for one of those DA 20/9 games.
Thing four: Speaking of new guys….Rudy Gay never went 8-8 in a game. That’s all I’m gonna say. Ok, no it’s not. Yes, Prince is no spring chicken, and is not the guy to whom you toss the ball at the end of a close game, but the argument that he might fit better with this team is looking more and more valid. Other side of the coin-Chris Johnson has likely found himself not much of a fan of the Rudy trade. The play of Prince and Daye, combined with the return of Pondexter, may spell his doom, as an end-of-bench center may be the next ten-day carousel man. I’d sorta be surprised if we didn’t hear something about Jerome Jordan. No inside info, but he’s out there, and played well for the Grizz in camp.
Thing five: For all his 2-for-7-ness, Marc Gasol came darn close to a triple double, and told reporters after the game that “that’s the way basketball should be played” when he was informed that the Griz’ assist numbers have risen significantly after the Rudy trade. Huh. If we could just get our hands on a transcript of that dinner convo between Pera/Levien/Conley/Gasol, I think we’d all have a clearer idea about the direction in which the new ownership intends to steer this team.
Thing six: The Conley barometer is back functioning. 16 and 8 ast with ZERO turns. That’s fourteen assists and two total turnovers for the three players who manned the PG spot for the Griz this game. Gotta love that, although the fact that it came against the Wolves’ D has to be considered. Patience on the perimeter and excellent sealing by the big men to help protect entry passes were hallmarks of the PG play, and that’s something that will have to improve even further as the playoffs creep ever closer.
Thing seven: This makes two in a row, and it was two in a row where the Grizzlies looked like the November version of the team. Close game with an excellent fourth quarter against the Dubs, and a sound, unquestioned victory over a lesser, injury-depleted team. Should the Grizzlies be able to make it three in a row by beating the Kings Tuesday, the All-Star break will be a welcome rest and refocusing time, not a time to wonder what’s wrong.