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I’ll tell ya something. The first NBA player I remember thinking was really awesome was Elvin Hayes. I was VERY young, but it seemed like he worked hard. Of course I dug Dr. J, and that Sixers championship team was my first favorite team with Cheeks/Toney/etc.

But I’m hard pressed to remember enjoying watching the play of an individual as much as I have enjoyed Tony Allen’s hustle this season.

From the “unbelievable, just unbelievable” file…I have rooted for the Heat and the Lakers on the same day. Absurd.

But about this Grizzlies win….

…another standard Grizzlies win. ZBo goes nuts in the fourth, Tony Allen plays with more heart than an entire pride of lions, blahblahblah. However…some things stood out more than others:

-the third quarter. No, it wasn’t the decisive quarter, but two things of GREAT import happened in the Q3. One-Marc Gasol picked up his FIRST foul. Yep, you read that right. For all the borderline MMA activity that was happening in the lane this game, Gasol the Younger and Tougher, who has had his issues with fouls all season, stayed clean until about halfway through the third. It’s just imperative that the Griz maintain their inside advantage, and he’s a big part of that. The other big thing about the third quarter? It was the quarter wherein Tony Parker scored his final points of the game, Yes, he scored in the teens in Q3-but keeping him from finishing the game with his typical Parkerness was huge. Big tip of the cap to the Griz defense.

-there have been, by design and by lack of ability, very few games where the Grizzlies’ 3pt shooting ability has played a pivotal role in a win. Tonight, it wasn’t just an above-average 6-14 night, but it was the two guys who made the threes. For one, it was the somewhat-deservedly much-maligned OJ Mayo going 4-6 from three. I’ve not been afraid to rake him across the coals when I’ve felt it necessary, but I’ve also said that his raison d’etre in the NBA will be as a scorer, so score he must. Can’t score without shooting. The second factor is Battier. He said a few days ago that he knows he’s been horrible on offense (with which I’d disagree-he’s made enough “right place right time” baskets in close games to remove himself from consideration for horrible), and that’s why it’s so nice to see him drain not only a classic Battier baseline three, but also the longer (some might say tougher) 3 from the top of the key. The team doesn’t need much from him on offense, and what he gave tonight is just about right.

-the paint. Yes, as we’re all aware, the Spurs were without Timmy. However, the Griz have been without their best player since the Allstar break, and the Griz did killer business on the glass this game, and we all know what ZBo did in the fourth quarter after McDyess annoyed him. Gasol’s show of emotion after he made a pivotal shot over Ginger epitomized pretty well the attitude of the Grizzlies’ big men, and Leon Powe has been a nice addition in a limited role (although he did his best Brook Lopez imitation tonight-zero rebounds for a big man is, uh, not, uh, optimal). Even Hamed had a couple rebounds and a couple free throws in a couple of minutes.

Conley didn’t have his best game, but that only goes to demonstrate that the Grizzlies can get it done when he’s a bit below par.

Sam Young was snoozing anyway before the ankle injury, but he’s going to need to heal up quick. His ablity to guard 2/3 with Allen as his partner on the wing is something the Griz will need for these final crucial games.

One little question…does it seem just positively unfathomable that Tony Allen spent a couple stretches of several games early in the season paying rent in Hollins’ doghouse??!!!?!?!?!?

Keep it up Griz. Almost there. Not yet, but almost.

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