Thank you, Rudy Gay. 11-16, only 2 TO…with only a minor mention of the meager 5 rebounds.
Lots of things went right this game, and most of them had to do with defense.
And what were those things?
Hard not to first notice, boxscore-wise, something that has zilch to do with defense-three-point makes. O-O-OJ MAYOOOOO with the tasty 4-7 and Rudy with a prudent 1-2. Not that he can’t shoot ’em, but it’s not where he’s gonna earn that money. Like many of the other stats that fell in the Griz’ favor this game, the 50% shooting from distance had a decent bit to do with the Knicks’ disinterest and lack of energy. A good swing/reversal of the ball or a nice perimeter pick can get an open three, and the Griz took advantage of the opportunities.
Tony Allen, five steals. Marc Gasol, four blocks (as usual??!?!?), a +7 on the boards, sub-38% for NYK from the field, and the Grizzlies had almost as many team steals as they did personal fouls. Any of these things would have been nice in and of itself, but combined, it’s a recipe for an almost-certain win. A win under any circumstance is welcome, but for a team without its best player, it’s a huge deal to break a losing streak with such an emphatic and complete victory. The Grizzlies led each other-Gay showed the offensive leadership the team needs from him so badly by taking a prudent amount of perimeter shots, and getting several dunks to get his blood back flowing. Rudy had his best sequence of the season-a Sportscenter-worthy block on Amare, then a smartly-chosen, assisted three on the other end. Tony Allen showed leadership on the other end, playing passing lanes and flat-out tying people up if they dared try to get in the lane. He knows he provides the example for the rest of the team to follow on D, and perhaps this game will help him get his confidence back. He also passed on a couple shots that he might have taken three or four games ago, which was very encouraging.
The Grizzlies also need to thank Iman Shumpert for smashing his forehead into the rookie wall this night, which wall, hard and unyielding as it was, could not even stop Iman from jacking that ball toward the hoop. Great player in the making maybe, but he was so badly exposed at the PG position it was almost indecent.
Speaking of point guards, it was nice to see the predicted-by-many-including-myself insertion of Josh Selby into the rotation. Pargo has just hit a rough patch without big no. 50 to receive passes, and Selby’s blinding speed was perfect for a game like this against a travel-weary, listless team like the Knicks were during this contest. It’ll be interesting to see if Selby gets some run Saturday, likely against former Grizzly Greivis Vasquez, who the Griz coaching staff know is not exactly lateral lightning on defense. Needless to say, it helped that the Knicks didn’t pay Selby (or any other Griz, really) a whole lot of attention on D.
Best thing about this game? The Grizzlies jumped out to a lead like they have in several first quarters, but this time, they kept the pressure on, and did not let the Knicks get closer than six, and NYK got it that close for only a brief moment in the second quarter. The dreaded third-quarter tank-on-empty thing did not happen to the Griz tonight, and they piled it on. It wasn’t perfect-Speights did great on the boards but went 0-6 from the field , 16 TO’s is way too many, especially three each from Selby and Mayo, but the swarming defense and the smelling of blood by the end of the first quarter was a great thing to see.
Come on Griz. Time to start a streak of the winning kind.