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First…I’m infinitely sorry for the weak Dune reference.

But the analogy sorta holds-Conley HAD to wake up offensively if the Grizzlies were to stem the tide that washed over them in Indianapolis on NYE.

One loss, one win. There were more things than just Conley’s wild inconsistency that made the difference over this two-game stretch…

Shooting percentage means nothing by itself, of course, but it, uh, does sorta help when you make roughly 48% of your shots as opposed to 38%. Duh. Ball movement and passing? Sure. 17 ast on 31 FG’s in the Indiana loss, 23 on 34 in the Boston victory, both of which are reasonable percentages of field goals assisted…but the difference was poise under pressure in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies only scored two more points (18 v. 16) in the fourth against the Celtics than against the Pacers-but they didn’t melt as their lead evaporated against the Celtics. Yes, Rudy missed a ton of shots in the fourth, and ZBo was pretty much a non-factor in the game (more on that in a moment)-but Gay’s jumper to make it 83-71 after Garnett had inspired a Griz timeout was huge.

Defensively, the Grizzlies held both opponents under 90  points, as we’ve become accustomed to seeing them do on a fairly regular basis. Perhaps the best defensive stretch for the Grizzlies over the last several games (well, maybe besides the whole Denver home victory) was holding the Celtics scoreless from the 4:52 mark of Q4 until only a minute remained. Four minutes of game time with the Celts stuck on 78, and this after Jet Terry had hit two consecutive threes to pull the home team within five. That would be the key manifestation of the aforementioned “poise under pressure”.

Also, it didn’t hurt that Rondo decided to launch two threes over that stretch, and KG missed two consecutive FT’s.

Zach Randolph had two interesting games-a very “ZBo plays for the hometown crowd” 21 and 15 in a losing effort against IND, and a very non-ZBo 3-8 for six lonely points, all of which came early in the game. However…KG and co. having to watch ZBo so closely made things easier for the Grizzlies with whom he was sharing the floor. I’d imagine we’re due a Zbo-splosion soon.

Also, Rudy Gay, the greatest basketball conundrum in the known universe. A miserably selfish 3-17 against Indiana, which was something we’ve seen before-Rudy takes over for a win (Denver at home in this case) and follows it up with a big-cloud-of-methane stinker. Then he rebounds, so to speak, against Boston and was a huge part of the Grizzlies’ establishment of a double-digit halftime lead. While he only went 6-15 (with plenty o’ misses in the fourth quarter), he had five assists, which not so long ago would have seemed like a misprint of the box score.

The bench. Ah, the Grizzlies bench. Always a rollercoaster, this bunch. Speights did well on the glass over the two games, with 13 boards in 29 minutes. Good energy and awareness while doing so. Wayne Ellington has evidently had someone let him know why he was brought here in exchange for a player who could have really helped the Grizzlies this season (miss ya Dante), and went 4-9 over these two  road games. For any of you who don’t see the Grizzlies regularly, 4-9 for this guy is cause for a parade. Darrell Arthur and his two three-pointers (!!!) against the Celtics was nice to see, especially after his four-turnover four-foul bumpy game against the Pacers. Two good shooting games, with a total of 7-13 over the two nights.  Impossible not to root for him to do well-from the false medical red flag in the draft, to his one zillion lost seasons due to injury, this guy has faced and overcome all sorts of adversity (and let’s don’t forget about that hazy hotel room at the rookie camp….). The Pondexter injury has forced him into a new role at small forward, and he has yet to show me anything that makes me think he can’t do it. Not just the threes-he’s laterally mobile enough to guard guys on the perimeter and has the size to play inside as well. Tony Wroten got some run when Bayless suffered an unfortunate ankle sprain and looked a bit deer-in-headlights, but that’s ok-I’d expect nothing different from him for the first little while. If Bayless is out for any length of time, though, he’ll need to get more comfortable initiating the offense.

Another  sneaky-tough team coming in to the FEF on Friday-the Gay/Batum matchup should be golden. Come on Rudy. Keep it going, man.

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6 Responses to The Conley Must Awaken; Grizzlies Go 1-1 on the Road

  1. chriskf1No Gravatar says:

    I watched the Celtic’s feed of last night’s game on NBA TV… as Rondo launched that first 3 Matt references above (early in the shot clock without making a single pass) Tommy Heinsohn let out an AUDIBLE groan (like that a child would make after taking nasty-tasting medicine). When the shot bricked, Gorman and Heinsohn both were completely silent for about the next 6-7 seconds… Gorman picked up the game call with Conley’s first pass past midcourt, like the possession never happened and there was an unspoken agreement that we should never speak of that shot ever again. You could practically feel them cringing & rolling their eyes through the screen. Too Funny!

    Also: Matt… thanks for keeping the candle burning for Cunningham. Every time the Griz let loose with a low-energy stinker (Denver 1, Atlanta, Denver 2, Houston, Indiana) my FIRST thought is that Dante would have made a difference. I miss that dude.

  2. Chris FaulknerNo Gravatar says:

    I miss some of Dante’s play as well (not his shooting however) but up until Q got hurt were there even any minutes available for him? Was he going to get on the floor ahead of Arthur and Speights?

  3. chriskf1No Gravatar says:

    Most nights, probably not.

    But unlike a lot of players, I believe Dante could be DNP-CD for extended stretches and still “do his thing” when his name got called.

    I completely understand that he was the odd man out and got traded for a greater need. And when the Griz are clicking I don’t give him a second thought. But when Z-bo’s on the bench and 4 guys are watching Rudy go ISO (or the whole team is mailing it in on a New Year’s Eve matinee) I believe Hollins would, in fact, find minutes for Cunningham and a handful of times each year he would prove to be the difference.

    So far, Ellington has been the difference 1-2 games himself, so not really bellyaching about the trade; just giving a nod to a guy that knew his role and had a skillset that the team misses from time to time.

  4. mtigerdiehardGrizzliesDieHardNo Gravatar says:

    Great game by the Grizzlies especially Conley. However, I cringe watching Rudy Gay go iso in the 4th quarter. Our team ball movement ceases, he rarely passes, and most often turns the ball over fueling the opposing teams’ runs. I am ready to trade Gay for a comparable repleacement and an add-in. Gay and Bayless to Chicago for Hinrich, Deng, and Taj Gibson. Salaries matchup perfectly. Grizzlies need a good shooting SF willing to defer to Conley, Randolph, and Gasol.

  5. HPTMattNo Gravatar says:

    Interesting to see the opinions on Dante-Chip and I were having a similar “discussion” after the horrendous PHX loss a week or two ago, and I was on the “long energy guy like Dante” could have been around to stop Dragic side. And to Chris Faulkner-I think that having Dante would have made the Grizzlies two deep at each position, while still having versatility for QPon to go 2/3 when game circumstances dictate, and have Dante go mostly 3 and a bit 4 if circumstances dictate.

    To DieHard: not a crazy trade, but the Bulls likely don’t go for that. The term you use that i LOVE, though, is “defer”. That’s what the Griz need if in fact they decide to try to trade Rudy (which I don’t think anyone *really* thinks they’ll do). They need a long defender who can shoot threes. That’s it. Someone who does NOT need the ball to function on offense. Hey…anyone got an old 2004 Bruce Bowen laying in the garage?

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