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Wow. What a boxing match. What a game. Approximately 347 lead changes, a bunch of ties, a weird final play, and a couple of teams who were both playing at their most intense.

When it came down to it, though, the Griz just couldn’t pull this one out.

Darnit. It almost seems weird that the Griz lost this game, but they did, and what happened was a basic thing that happens this time of year….

…the best teams expose the weaknesses of the next-tier teams. In this case, lack of outside shooting.

More importantly, perhaps, was something else we’ve seen some of the better teams do to the Griz over the season-use length, athleticism, and smart positioning to smack the Grizzlies off the glass on both ends. Despite the fact that the Griz have pulled themselves into a positive rebound differential after a horrid, horrid start to the season on the boards, the best rebounding teams still manage to keep the Griz off the glass, and in this game, that was the difference.

Sure, there was the Rose factor. The Griz’ perimeter got smoked. Sure, making Rose go 6-22 or whatever looks great-but 12-13 from the line tells the real story. Blowby. That’s the word for which we search.

What I noticed:

-Noah. Not nearly as feet-in-concrete as he was so long ago when he told us all about what he and “his boys” were gonna do after winning that championship. No real numbers, but his defense was well-executed and the minimal number of points he scored all seemed to come at perfect times. Perhaps more than any other Bull, “buying in” fits what this cat is doing out there.

-OJ. The freezeout shooting continued, although the two threes he hit were huge. Something to watch and listen for as the crunch of the season-end continues will be to see if OJ restrains himself or if the shooter’s (lack of) conscience keeps in place. And the great unspoken….what do OJ’s teammates think of him being loose on the trigger when he’s not hitting? The public face will, of course, be “we need him shooting and scoring”, but oh, if we could only read minds.

-Back to the glass. Powe and Arthur combined for only 4 rebounds in 30 minutes. That, my friends, is a result of careful scheming on both ends by Thibs and staff, and is the center of the difference in this game. Taj Gibson is easily able to match DA’s athleticism, and Powe is still too rusty to be able to play at his top level on both ends (although his post offense is certainly welcome).

-A tech on Shane Battier? REALLY? That’s like trying to give my 76-year-old father a speeding ticket. Nobody’s gonna believe you when you tell ’em. But Shane got T’ed up, and rather unfairly I might add. The call was wrong. Was there to be a call above and beyond a foul, it should have been a flagrant, not a tech. A flagrant would have been unwarranted, but a tech was just incorrect. This game was just about as physical as the Celtics game or even the Utah game from earlier in the week, but not nearly as chippy as the BOS win since the Bulls don’t try to act like the older cousin at the family gathering pickup game like the Celtics do.

Gotta go…work is calling…Spurs tomorrow, and YET ANOTHER must-win….

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