Haha, it was SO nice to see the Mamba get that look on his face to close the game to 65-57 in the midst of a huge Lakers run…and have it go for naught. Love seeing the mighty fall, no matter who it may be, whether our Griz are involved or not.
What was the difference over the two weekend-in-LA games? Sure, the and-one for TA to stop the bleeding was huge, but there were larger symptoms of malaise that the Grizzlies managed to cure, at least for one game…First….Matt Barnes is a chump. Didn’t like him when he played for my second-fav team (GSW), and he’s been the same mediocre player since. A bit too “tough” for his, and his team’s, own good.
A pretty easy story to tell….
-the unselfish-to-a-fault play of ZBo in the Laker game, and, most noticeably, his absence from the starting lineup. Bold move by Hollins, and one graciously accepted by Zach. “One team, one goal”. When ZBo came into the game way late in Q1, he looked to pass. He looked to pass again, and he looked to pass some more. And he made some crispy, deft passes. Not that he wasn’t willing to share during the Clips game, and not that he didn’t have a fair game (14 and 8 with 2ast), but coming in off the bench after Speights had had his usual good start against LAL and facilitating was just a shot in the arm for the Griz’ offense. Speaking of shots in the arm…
-Rudy Gay. Yes, he pulled a second-half disappearing act, but the fact that he forced the Lakers to pay him a ton of attention in the first half is a large part of how the Grizzlies built a 10-point halftime cushion. Driving to the hoop, hitting from the outside (with 2-4 from three being a super-encouraging part of his game this night), and two big blocks. Play of the night, though, was a nice lane-drive smash on Bynum’s/MWP’s heads. The fact that he put it on their heads, though, was not the thing-the fact that he did not pull up in the lane for the patented Rudy Gay unblockable jumper showed that he was playing with a level of aggression meant to pull his team out of the doldrums of the losing streak. This aggression contrasted sharply with his play in the previous two games where he was the lackadaisical-but-mercurially-talented Rudy Gay that doesn’t do enough.
-No Gilbert Arenas, and that’s ok. Minimal investment, and not a guy who’s gonna cause problems when Hollins tells him that he’s gotta wait ’til he gets his legs under him. Pargo got more run, and looked better than he has….but he still went one-on-one more times than could provide a level of comfort, and four TO’s to only two ast in 14 minutes still shows why it’s been so difficult to give him appreciable court time. Will Gilbert get another chance? Almost certainly, but he’ll have to work more on his conditioning and get a bit more practice time (although he seemed thoroughly able to run the pick-and-roll with Marc during his first outing with the team). Still a fan of the signing.
-The fourth quarter, AKA “the OJ and ZBo show”. These two worked together wonderfully,with OJ hitting four shots in a row at one point en route to a 12-point quarter, and ZBo hit for 8 of his points. With Gasol in a bit of foul trouble (more on how that worked out in a moment) and Rudy not involved in the action, these two key cogs kept the wheel turning. “One team one goal”. Yes, OJ had some good numbers in the LAC game, but it was not important, since the team as a whole played no D. Zilch.
-HADDADI!!!!!! Now, I’m no member of the Hollins-proclaimed “cult of Haddadi”, but anyone can recognize when there is a matchup that could give the Griz reason to give him PT, and this was one of those games. He really wasn’t any different than the usual Haddadi (aside from the uncontested down-the-lane dunk), but what he does (using his height to his full advantage, taking rebounds like the tall cousin at the driveway pickup game at Thanksgiving, and rocking a putback or two) was just what the Griz needed out of a backup big this night. 10 and 6 with 3 blk in 13 minutes? Yes please. More per-minute absurdity from the big guy. He played a whole minute and a whole second in the Clips game, and one must wonder if it might have worked out better had he gotten more time…nah. Grizzlies were asleep at the wheel anyway.
The team won the battle of the glass for the second consecutive game (although they only did so against LAC since there weren’t a lot of defensive rebounds to be had for the Griz), and generally did what might be termed “playing really hard”, with the always-effervescent Tony Allen winding up in the second row going after a loose ball, the Grizzlies blocking TWO dunk attempts (!), and going for 25 assists (huh?).
Nice to end the trip on a good note…now it’s time to send Kevin Love’s beard out of the FEF with tears in it….