Play of the game? No, not TA’s free throws. Not one of ZBo’s zillion rebounds.
It was Mike Conley’s block on Kyle Lowry early, early on in the game.
Well, Kyle, I guess Conley is still first out of that locked point guard room, right? (ask in comments if ya wanna know what that’s about if you’re not already hip to the story).
Feels extra good to get to count down this evening’s lucky seven things about the game…
Thing one: Fourth quarter poise. On the one hand, right around forty missed free throws. On the other hand, the Grizzlies did not choke the game away after the Raptors tied it, with a MONSTROUS tip o’ the cap to Mike Conley for yet another huge three that put the Grizzlies up six with about two to go. Zach got that “see you by the bus” look during that fourth quarter, and grabbed four boards and made, well, some of his FT’s. Most importantly, he showed ZERO hesitation about being “the guy” in the fourth. He ain’t bluffin’. Tayshaun Prince with the huge backtap on the Conley missed FT. Good teams do those things to, well, lesser teams. Sorry Rudy and Kyle, that’s just the way it is.
Thing two: Tony Allen’s energy. It’s contagious, it’s a basketball nuclear detonation. He didn’t shoot as well as he has lately, but then again…no one did. Both teams under 38% for the game, and TA revels in a game like that. Strange matchups, microscopic lineups, none of this matters to TA. Swarming.
Thing three: A curiously…dominant? game for Conley. No, he didn’t shoot all that well either-but his poise and lack of intimidation gave the Griz some stability within a game that was about as stable as Gary Busey after about ten Patron shots. Dominant in terms of steady leadership and stability.
Thing four: Good bench play. Bayless brought the energy and contributed three assists to only one TO-and in a game where the team scores only 88, that’s a decent line from your backup PG. 25 total bench points out of 88, that’ll do. Moderately curious DNP-CD for Daye, as his height and shooting ability would seem to have been a good match for the odd lineups and horrible shooting in the game, but who knows and who will question the mind of Hollins, who managed the players and thusly the game very well.
Thing five: Six of thirteen from three. In a game as close as this turned out to be, shooting 46% from three makes up a huge part of the difference. Twenty assists on 29 made FG’s, with only ten turns. Grind it out, play it right, even when the hoop seems the size of a pinhole…from inside the arc, anyway.
Thing six: Tony Allen. Yep, he’s earned himself a repeat, as we need to discuss his play as the game wound down. A huge steal, a much more huge block (against…you guessed it, Rudy Gay), and two Jupiter-sized FT’s to seal the game. The Grizzlies owe Chris Wallace a lifetime pension of some sort for getting this guy to come to town.
Thing seven: 17 and 18. The man, #50. Sure, he couldn’t hit the pool laying on his belly on the diving board-but seeing him up the physicality as the game got close late was the stuff of basketball dreams. He knew what his team needed him to do, and he did it. Speaking to Rob Fischer after the game, he said “we gotta get ready for that big stage, man”. ZBo has his eyes on the postseason but is not ignoring the job in front of him right now. He and TA are leading the team, and it’s obviously gotten easier for them over the last, oh, eight games or so? Huh. What was it that happened around that time to change how the team might interact with one another?
Oh, yeah. Now I remember….