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.