So, Rudy Gay hit another gamewinner in Toronto tonight. Good for him, and good for the Raptors…’cuz they beat the Nuggets, who have now lost two in a row.
Who needs Rudy and his offensive weapons? WE GOT…TONY ALLEN? HUH?
This game was all about TA’s hustle. Allen (19/8/3, 2 stl 1blk) and Gasol (23/12/2) both had stellar games (just don’t look at that turnover column…), and the rest of the team played well enough to hang on.
There were uneasy sensations in the fourth quarter, to be sure, and tonight’s lucky seven for the win touches on that right out of the gate…and mixed in, we’ll have some locker room audio thanks to the hard work of 3SOB’s Lee Smith.
Donning again my tall red-and-white hat and jumping into the Thingamajigger…
Thing one: Pure slop in the fourth quarter. Double-digit turnovers in a quarter is, thankfully, highly unusual for the Grizzlies-my digestive tract would not do well were it a common occurrence. Gasol and Conley each had about a dozen, and TA had one of those turnovers that TA commits a few times a year that is seemingly inexplicable, this time stepping on the sideline for no reason. The Kings never got closer than six, but it never should have gotten even to that point.
Thing two: Overdeference. I just made up that word, ‘cuz “overpassing” seems, well, so last week. It was expected that Prince would be a more-than-willing passer upon his arrival in town (still love that one of my favorite defensive players is now making Beale Street his NBA home!), and he had four assists with only one turnover…but several Grizzlies passed up wide-open shots to make an extra extra pass, especially in the first half. The team only wound up with 21 ast on 41 makes, which would have been great for the Grizzlies earlier in the season, but now…it’s a slouchy night.
Thing three: Just remember what Tony Allen did this game, and while you’re thinking about it, listen to what he says at about the 1:30 mark of this audio clip:
I’ve never wanted a player to retire (after another three or four or five seasons, that is) as a Grizzly so darned bad. It’s pretty easy to see that TA intends to try to fill Rudy’s scoring shoes, and if he continues to take smart shots and make great cuts, he’ll be able to do it. Just watch those knees, Tony.
Listen to what Coach Hollins says about 1:40 into his postgame remarks, and you’ll hear him make an important point about games like this. They can be testing, but they allow a team to “play through mistakes”. This was an important aspect of the victory-Gasol picked up a tech on a questionable foul, TA committed a bonehead TO, Daye blew a couple rotations, Zach had a tough time with his younger doppleganger Demarcus Cousins….but the Grizzlies didn’t get rattled and still won the game.
Thing five: The three as a weapon. As a team, the Griz went 6-13, which is just about perfect for this Grizzlies team. A couple more attempts might be desirable, but shooting in the 40′s with attempts in the teens is like a 3-point contest compared to some past Grizzly outings (see what I did there?). The threat of Austin Daye is nice, and Tayshaun Prince is appropriately conservative but useful in this regard as well.
Thing six: Grizzlies outscored in the paint 58-48. Not cool…or is it? Remember point five? If the Grizzlies can pick up about twenty or so points from beyond the arc, the pressure on Zbo and Marc to rustle up so many points on the block is less. Gasol also had his feet on unpainted wood when he was going nuts from outside this game, as the Kings chose to let him shoot, which was not Smart’s, uh, smartest decision.
Thing seven: Listen to what Marc Gasol says, and how he says it. Perhaps I could just be hearing what I want to hear (it’s the Heisenberg uncertainty principle of NBA big-man interviews, I suppose?), but it sounds like he and TA, in particular, feel a bit more…free?…since the Rudy trade, as if a weight of either Rudy’s ego or just of the impending inevitable trade has been lifted. Maybe not, since the words he says (“we have to get a lot better”) are the same as we hear him utter after every game win or loss….but I dunno. One of those things to ponder over the break….