Well, a winnable game at home after an excruciatingly tough road trip. While the Wolves do present a talented bunch of players, they just don’t match up that well with the Grizzlies, and this game demonstrated that.
For this night, it was all-important that the Fearsome Twosome inside throw their literal and figurative weight around in the paint. And they did.There were a couple other important aspects to the game as well, of course…and we have some great audio from the Grizzlies’ locker room via 3SOB’s Lee Smith.
-Mike Conley. His quiet leadership is what makes him perhaps the most (get ready for it, here it comes…) underrated PG in the NBA. Those several occasions tonight when the Grizzlies were able to make Luke Ridnour look like he was just wandering around the court looking for a lost puppy instead of playing defense on his man? Those occasions were largely orchestrated by Conley. 8-14, 3-6 from three, two more steals, and 6ast/1TO. Just listen to this audio from Conley. No flash, not too high, but glad to get a win. Steady.
-*enters broken record mode* Marc Gasol. It’s time to say it…his career could eclipse his brother’s. No way to know if he ever gets any jewelry like his brother now possesses, but defensively he’s better than Pau has ever been, and his ability to facilitate from a position farther from the goal than Pau has helps space the court better. That jab-step thingy he pulled on Pek? Crazy. Makin’ space for himself like a 2-guard. Oh, and four blocks. Heaven knows he doesn’t get his blocks from massive hops-it’s smart play.
-Jerryd Bayless…a bit of a double-edged sword, he is. Speaking like Yoda, I am. Continue to look for his shot, he must. Seems opponents have largely figured out that when Bayless is given half a seam off that curl to the top of the key, string music will result-and even an un-stellar defensive team like the Wolves was able to halt that mostly-but Bayless still went 7-12. I’ll say it again-OJ without the ego, and in a bit of a reversed perceived role. OJ longed to be a PG, and Bayless just sorta does it ‘cuz he has to. Check out what he says starting about :50 into this audio bit: these guys LOVE to play defense.
-And the Grizzlies’ leading rebounder, with a fantastic 14 boards…Tayshaun Prince? Huh? Yep. I bet this guy brushes his teeth like a veteran who knows all the tricks about getting those back molars clean. Seldom will you find a player who is able to extrapolate his experience from thousands of minutes played into every successive game-cyclical improvement. He knew AK was coming back from injury, and Gelabale is just not on Prince’s level (also-please, Mikael, go back to the Gelabale-as-a-Sonic-era dreads. They were much cooler). Prince had as many rebounds as Dante Cunningham and Gelabale combined. A double-double for Prince.
After an unusually rancid third quarter at Utah, the Grizzlies got back to what they’ve been doing in the third quarter. Nice to see a 29-14 count coming out of halftime. Here are Coach Hollins’ postgame comments. Again, a workmanlike tone. This team is most certainly shaped in the mold of its coach, and now that the “woe is me, they traded away half my team” comments have faded into a dot at the very far point of the rear view mirror, it’d be a surprise if there was not at least some discussion of an extension, barring a total collapse in the postseason.
The Grizzlies will need to rest very well the next two nights with Hurricane Russell coming to town….