Ok, let’s all find the nearest sphygmomanometer. After it explodes, sit down and put a cool cloth on your forehead.
Yeah, I’m gonna say it too. All heart. Grit. Grind.
Jerryd Bayless, HERO.
It’ll not be easy to narrow it down to seven things that were fun to watch in this game, but here goes….
and our Lee Smith got some GREAT audio tonight, be sure to check it out.
Thing one: Ok, so Jerryd Bayless earned his contract. Ok, let’s shut down the hyperbole machine…but he once again cemented his “OJ without the ego issues” reputation with me, and I’m sure with a lot of you. Five for ten, 4-6 from three, and not one missed FT.
Thing two: Tayshaun Prince. He knows the grind. He’s known it for years, even before he was aware of what it was. He learned it with Big Ben, Sheed, and the crew. Again…it’s like he shoulda been here for years. It’s oh-so-unusual that a player can go 3-13 and be praised for his contribution, but that’s certainly the case with this game.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better player for the FO to have acquired in the Gay trade (out of the available ones, anyway…). Listen to what he says about poise and composure. “Dig down deep and keep it together”. He’s been in the pressure cooker. He understands.
Thing three: Eleven points in the final minute of the fourth quarter, and seven in twelve seconds. Insane. Sure, the Grizzlies’ offense has sputtered more than anyone might like this season, but that was a very poised and planned stretch. Best thing about it? Hollins going for the inbounds lob to Bayless. As we all know, Hollins is not known as the most “outside the box” coach, opting usually for much more conservative play choices, but he knew that Sefalosha’s defense had been, well, not good, and went at him one more time. Well done Hollins.
Thing four: Absolute miniball. Pondexter played the “four” position (or was it TA?) a lot during the second half. The game was giving me horrific flashbacks of that game a couple years ago where Iavaroni chased Scott Brooks into a smallball wormhole that would have frightened even Mr. Spock (y’know, that game where Rudy played CENTER for a few minutes, and Iavaroni pretty much guaranteed himself that he’d lose his job), but the result was different this night. It’s easy to look at Nick Collison and say he is a starter on the all-time Grizkiller team, but the rebounds he was gobbling and D he was playing looked like more than they were, as he was playing as a center and able to make the best of being one of the biggest two guys on the court.
Thing five: Tony Allen was charged with three fouls in the first quarter (nine minutes), and picked up only one more in his next…25 minutes? Huh? That’s a defender. It was borderline hilarity when he was seen playing D with his hands LITERALLY behind his back after his second foul. Talk about laugh-out-loud funny. Check out what TA had to say about the win.
Check out especially what he says at the end about playing the Thunder and why it might mean a bit more than playing another team.
Thing six: Twenty total assists in the game. That’s not for one team, by the way, and there were zero assists in overtime. 55 total fouls. The winning team shot 36%. I do so sorely wish that every NBA game I watch from now on is like this. Trust me, I LOVE watching good ball movement and well-executed offense, but I like it even better when well-executed offense runs into a Hoover-Dam-sized wall of defense. Watching the Thunder’s defense “breathe” against the Grizzlies as they attempted a post entry was just beautiful. Yep, I said it. Watching those guys dig back as one, but not so far as to leave the perimeter guys *too* open was a scheme to behold, and also not rocket surgery. Watching the Grizzlies crowd the elbow on Durant and Westbrook was just awesome.
Thing seven: Imma let Russell Westbrook finish, but he’s gotta know that Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies were just the better team this night. He should have been tossed after trying to shoulder-roll Gasol after his tech early on, and I’d like to thank Russell Westbrook for going 7-25 and 0-6 from three. Punkish behavior for sure.
Wow. See there, I got all the way through this recap and didn’t say one word about the officiating. Can’t believe I almost got away with that….