As Charles Barkley loves to say “if yo (butt) lives by the jumpshot, yo (butt) gonna die by the jumpshot”.
Boy, did that apply to this game.
If we look at the result and how it was achieved, it’s hard not to at least consider the word “lucky”.
Why was it “lucky” that the Grizzlies won this game?
Well, it was lucky ‘cuz the Grizzlies only scored 34 points in the paint, were outscored by six in the paint, still scored over 100, and still won the game. That, my friends, does not happen much. This was in large part due to two things: ZBo getting his game sacrificed in favor of Bayless’ first-half histrionics (heroics?), and Gasol’s deft outside touch on the night (which, we’ve all learned, is not an aspect of his game to be taken for granted). During the key second quarter, Bayless and Gasol bore almost the entirety of the scoring load. Randolph had a tough, tough scoring night, but was still able to get his twelve boards for a solid contribution. He didn’t get a chance to launch any of his jab-step half-jumpers from the wing/baseline, but it worked out. Next game, it could very well be that he carries the team. Nice thing about having multiple good players.
One giant aspect of this game that had nothing to do with luck and had everything to do with the Grizzlies’ strong suit? The Sixers scored exactly ZERO points over the last three minutes of the game. Sure, Tony Allen finally put up a clunker of a game (perhaps partially because he put the CLAMPS on Eric Gordon last night?), but he was in for the final seven minutes and helped tremendously to stifle the Sixers those last few minutes. It helped that the Sixers had no true inside go-to guy (they just don’t), but still-the Sixers had shot well over 50% for the game, and the Grizzlies collectively threw them off the elbow-to-baseline short wing )at least a time or three) from which they’d been killing the Grizzlies and got them to miss a few from out front in the fourth quarter (ESPN shot chart ).
And Rudy. Oh, Rudy, thank you so much for lighting the flame inside the hot-air balloon that is your trade value (Calderon, Davis, AND Ross. Any less and I hang up the phone). An odd thing, and a nice thing:
-odd: Rudy said he was more in rhythm ‘cuz he was handling the ball coming upcourt more. Baloney. He does that at least several possessions a game, and it has been fairly consistent over his recent horrendous slump. He shot very well and looked smooth doing it, and the Grizzlies won-so it’s fine I suppose-but one must wonder about his “conversation with management” since last night’s Hornicans debacle. Was it a “we won’t” promise, or a “we will” promise, or neither? Time will tell.
-nice: The most sincere smile and joke we’ve seen from Rudy in AGES when he launched a grammatically horrible sentence at Rob Fischer during the postgame, and immediately reeled it in. He loves to succeed, but it’s hard not to think that he gets in his own way more than most players.
The cursory boxscore glance gives it all to Rudy, Bayless, and Gasol…and that’s about right. The bench, while the three guys who played did just fine, only accounted for 20 of the Grizzlies’ 103. With Pondexter and Conley both out of the rotation, throwing Bayless off the bench, this sounds about right. Defensively, Johnson hustles harder than we might have thought he would, and his +19 for the game, for this night anyway, speaks volumes-having a guy who can drain it with regularity from beyond makes it easier for everyone on the floor.
HUUUUGGGEEE one coming up Thursday in OKC. Dr. Azar needs to get Conley a bionic ankle or something by then….