After the Lakers game, it was easy for all of us to think “well, that was the Lakers, and they have been wearin’ the struggle face all season”. This game, however, was against a team who had been absolutely combusticating all over the NBA lately…and they ran into a Grizzlies buzzsaw.
Odd as it may sound, this game sorta reminded me of the three sub-25-win seasons…in that there is a Grizzly on a 10-day contract in whom I’m putting WAY too much faith right now…but it’s ok. Chris Johnson seems to be getting rid of the jitters, and looks, for the brief moment we’ve seen him, like the long-armed three-point guy that the Grizzlies need. When Pondexter returns, it likely will get tougher for him to get off the bench, but that may be a bit yet.
This was another, well, “full smearation” of an opponent by the Grizzlies.
This will be fun…let’s run down who played the biggest roles for the Grizzlies tonight…
Player numero uno: the backup point guard, and that would NOT be Bayless..for the most part. Bayless did have the ball in his hands enough to add up eight assists (and get within a loud shout of a triple-double with 11/7/8), but the speed and athleticism of Tony Wroten at PG is a large part of what allowed the Grizzlies’ lead to balloon like it did in the second quarter. If Wroten saw a seam a millimeter wide, it was as if he was made of iron and someone turned on an electromagnet in the rim. Wonder from whom he’s learning that…any ideas Mr. Allen? Bottom line is this…when Bayless and Wroten go a combined 10-17, you can bet the Grizzlies have an excellent chance of winning that game.
Player numero un0-a: Marc Gasol. Still trying to decide if it’d be better if Marc WAS supremely miffed that he didn’t make the ASG, or if he just came out and had his best game in a while on the offensive end. Either way, he gave the Grizzlies the start they needed against a team who could easily have come into the Forum and knocked the Grizzlies around. Marc FINALLY did what we all want him to do-he shot from inside, he threw ’em up from outside, he SHOT THE BALL without reservation. It’d be easy to say that his defense suffered, as Brook Lopez went 8-15, but there were more than a couple of occasions where the Nets executed their offense specifically to free Brook from Marc to get him a lane or a look. Also, Brook Lopez is just really good.
Player two: Mike Conley. If you saw this game on TV, the Grizzlies had Conley miked up, and the degree of “whole-game vision” he possesses and leadership that he exudes within the team was a bit more evident than if we just see him bring the ball up and tap his two fists together or wave five fingers. If you didn’t see the game, the six-for-seven from the field by Conley was brought about how it should have been-floaters, a couple threes, and a 4-1 ast/TO ratio to boot.
Player three: Lionel Hollins. Ok, he wasn’t in uniform (although we’d all agree that there have been times when we’d bet he would like to be), but the way the lineups have been lately reminds one of how Sir George Martin said he created the organ wash on “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” (he took a jillion small pieces of pipe-organ acetates, threw them up in the air, then put them back together again). Hollins, to his credit, has made it work, for a couple games anyway. He seemed less rigid about returning starters and was unafraid to ride with Bayless/Wroten/Johnson for long stretches when they were doing well. He’s extending the leash, perhaps because with Ellington and Speights gone and Q injured, he has to-but we’ve seen him keep it short in the past and just wear out the starters.
Small aside-four assists for Rudy Gay. YET ANOTHER rough shooting night, but a couple of bounce passes to cutters that would have turned out disastrously had he tried them two seasons ago.
The Grizzlies put up 67 in the first half-seems like that hasn’t happened since that game in December 2006 against TOR that was the first game after Fratello was fired and the players just went nutso shooting the ball. Ok, I know it’s happened since then, but it sure doesn’t seem like it sometimes.
Sunday quasi-matinee. Eric Gordon, our (former) guy Greivis, and the Unibrow Paint Monster. Should be a good one…gotta keep it rollin’.