This was a different team. Not the slackers who were run out of Phillips Arena two days earlier, and choked away a home game to the lowly Suns the night before that.
Was it Hollins’ Kum-Ba-Yah (is there really a correct way to spell that?) to the press before the game? Did the players even know he’d done that?
Was it the return of the MONSTER Conley three, this one that gave the Grizzlies the 88-86 lead about halfway through the final quarter?
Well, there was more to it than any of those individual things….
This time, a lucky seven things…
Thing one: Marc. Gasol. 9-14 from the floor with eleven boards and five assists, and a major charge taken against Harrison Barnes in the game’s waning moments. His level of motivation was as high as it’s been in quite a while. As the saying goes, he just needed to see a couple go in. Gasol was “in the zone” at the top of the key with the ball (more on that in a moment), found his teammates, and most of all, made shots in big situations.
Thing two: Tony Allen. Getting the Grizzlies off to a good start, especially the steal-and-mellow-layup, was the most important thing he could have done, and he did it. He’s the James Brown of the NBA-an amazing dancer (check out his towel-waving on the bench, if you’re the last person on Earth who has not done so), and the hardest-working man in (the basketball) business. Sure, he kinda spaced out trying for the putback on the FT miss late-but we’ll spare him from judgement over that one bad decision in a game when he made plenty of good ones.
Thing three: Zaaaaaaach Randolph. Sure, he suffered through a 4-13 shooting night, but his 8-8 from the stripe was KEY to the Grizzlies’ success-especially the 4-4 in the fourth quarter. Another big tip-in in Q4, and we might be on the way to thinking that….
Thing four: ….the Grizzlies, and Hollins in particular, have decided to route things through the big guys. Plenty of postups for ZBo, and guess what the viability enabled? Per synergy, the Grizzlies hit 7 of 16 threes, 44%, on spot ups this game. Inside-out, baby.
Thing five: The Grizzlies’ bench, especially DA, had a nice game. Sure, DA only went 2-4, but compared to his recent, uh, “output”, that’s a Godsend of a stat line. I’m thinking we’re due to see a mini-explosion game from him soon, and MIN and SAC will both present opportunities for that. Austin Daye also had his first impactful game as a Grizzly-that shot that seems to release from in front of his face looks weird, but it worked this night. Ed Davis even got a little run, and showed his hops on a, ahem, goaltend. Bayless hit for double figures again as well. When the Griz bench hits over 30 points as they did this night, they either played well or the game was lopsided. Glad the former was the case.
Thing six: The two guys are gonna do what they do, just don’t let some Joe Schmoe beat ya. Lee with 20 in the first half (and only six for the rest of the game-the Grizzlies’ bigs did a better job limiting his looks after halftime), and Curry with a rather typical outburst, tying his season high with 32. That’s just fine, because they were the only two Warriors in double figures. NICE. As I’ve said before, letting some nobody come out of the woodwork to go large against the Griz is a disturbingly recurrent phenomenon.
Thing seven: Big group hug for Lionel, Levien, the players, and the recently-rightfully-restless home crowd. Major chemistry and confidence builder as the team, FO, and the fans continue to acclimate to Rudylessness.
Two sneaky ones coming up-MIN and SAC are both teams who have talent, but have had issues putting it together.
Betcha Dante gets a HUGE round of applause Sunday, and he deserves it…but I hope his team loses that game.