First off, a rare thing happened this game…the Pistons played men of whom I’d never heard. Highly unusual. As my family will tell you, League Pass is the way of our living room TV between Halloween and the second round of the playoffs.
Pay the unknowns no mind, though-once the Grizzlies figured out that vacation was over, the game was too.
The inordinate number of techs, the audio, uh, “nuances”, of the broadcast, it was a nice return to basketball after a nice long break.
Yet another “lucky seven” things about this game…
Thing one: Tony Allen. This guy gives off more energy than the sun on its best day. On nights like this, it’s easy to overlook those two rebounds he had and tapped out of bounds, ‘cuz he, as usual, was the largest, hottest part of the fire that got and kept the team rolling. Loose cannons are a lot of fun to watch as long as they operate on your side of the demarcation line. A couple unnecessary fouls kept him from improving on his 5-7 FG’s, but even with 4 TO’s TA was a force in the Grizzlies’ victory.
Thing two: Zach “these are jackin’ hands” Randolph. His play spanning the second and third quarters was vintage Zbo, check out his ESPN shot chart . Paint points and rebounds, both of which could be printed on his calling card in fifty-foot font. Fifteen points on 6-11 shooting with ten boards in “only” 27 minutes. On his first rotation, ZBo was sluggish and unable to get to his spots thanks mostly to some emphatic “stop ZBo” defense from the Pistons. Once he hit a couple putbacks, though, Greg Monroe (who is awesome, BTW) and company seemed unable to physically displace him from his desired positions.
Thing three: Free throws. Sure, the Grizzlies doubled up the Pistons on attempts at 20-10, but the Grizzlies hit only 12. Not a huge thing within the perspective of one game, but as the postseason approaches, every aspect of the game has to get polished up. Ed Davis in particular needs to improve on this night’s 2-6 if he wants to be in the game at any pivotal moment as the lights get brighter. No need to really pick on one guy though, the Grizzlies have to keep their groove at the line.
Thing four: Turnovers. Mmmm, strawberry please. Oh, not that kind. The Grizzlies committed a ton in the first quarter, then settled it down and started picking up mucho points off Piston miscues (26 total for the game), and several of them were a result of a just-lovely 14 steals for the game. The bench pair of Bayless and Pondexter with three each bodes well for the team’s D going forward-opportunistic hustle and ball awareness helped these two guys turn the game in the Griz’ favor.
Thing five: Marc Gasol with a megaquiet game, but a good 8/5/7 line…and you can bet that Gasol could not care less about his line, only that the Grizzlies picked up a double-digit win on the road. Lunchpail, yeoman, hardhat, blahblahblah. This guy is a star, but I’m glad he got to rest last weekend. The season is about to get long, and Marc’s health and mental stability and poise will be huge as the regular season winds down.
Thing six: The tech on Hollins. LOVE IT. LH is no wallflower, to be sure-but his yammering rarely gets him T’ed up, and as time passes, I think we’ll thank David Guthrie for blowing that whistle like a Times Square traffic cop. A little extra edge, a bit of…angry swagger, shall we say. Again, this is a thing that the team will need as the games become more and more huge as the calendar rolls.
Thing seven: Defense. Sure, the Grizzlies were downright somnambulists at the outset of the game-but the steals by the backcourt, the 44-29 rebounding advantage, the four blocks by pogostick Ed Davis, and the general swarminess by Tony Allen helped the team establish the tone they have to set if they are to be successful. Pondexter is still getting back in full game mode, as he over-rotated a time or two, and the Grizzlies’ inside D was a bit numb at times, but until garbage time came, the Grizzlies had held the Pistons right around 40 percent, and that’d just be fine.
Pretty big game tomorrow, eh? The Raptors have a couple wing guys who are known to hit their heads on the ceiling but can fall asleep from time to time. Can’t recall their names just now, but I’m sure it’ll come to me….