First-I’ll say that I’m not a “Pelican Hater”. Groovy logo, if not the most aggressive team name.
The Grizzlies did what they have become wont to do, and it’s a bit like hustling pool. Let the other guy make a few shots, maybe even a few more than might seem appropriate…then shut ’em down.
A minor but comforting point-the Grizzlies, of course, ensured that they will finish the season over .500….with 21 games still to be played.
Dig in to the recap, we’ve got some more great locker room audio from Lee Smith.
Now on to the game…
A big thing one: Mike Conley. Stability. Consistency. He is providing these things to a degree that leads one to believe that he and TA are the ones least likely to have moistened a hanky at Rudy’s departure. Much has been made of how well the Griz do when Conley goes for 20+, and that is true-but it’s just as much that he lessens the load on the others. Interestingly, Conley and Vasquez both had 8 ast and 4 TO. An odd coincidence, but Conley showed his superiority with three steals and a tremendous calming influence on the team. Wroten and Bayless and the helter-skelter speed make for a good rhythm change-but Conley is the man at the helm of the Good Ship Grizzly.
Thing two: TA. Notice how his offense seems to come more in the flow since, oh, about the end of January? Yes, he had his first near-miss on the breakaway bucket in a while, but the jumper has looked better, and he kept the water flow to a trickle on Eric Gordon this night. The Pera group made a clear choice of TA over Rudy, and it’d be hard to find a Grizzlies fan who would argue with that choice right now. Listen to what Tony says starting at about the 1:50 mark about third-quarter commitment and accountability among the team:
Thing three: Ed Davis, with his high-PER self. I think he’s already blocked twice as many shots in a month and change as a Grizzly as Thabeet did during his entire tenure in Beale Street Blue. His FG attempts near the basket (all of them are, aren’t they…that’s the only disconcerting thing about this guy I can see thus far) have weird kind of disjointed fluidity to them, but his pogostickishness combined with his motor has kept the Grizzlies in the W column since the injury bug has bitten the frontline. 12 and 9 with 5 (!!!) blocks and a steal in thirty game minutes. He sure sounds like he is diggin’ what he’s being encouraged to do:
Things four, five, and six: Ten points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Marc Gasol with another top-notch contribution. It’s been said more than once that the Grizzlies’ locker room belongs to TA and ZBo, and that’s ok-but Marc leads by example and with emotion as much as any player on the team. And four blocks to boot. Has Gasol’s greatest growth in the NBA been on the defensive side of the ball?
Thing seven: NO Grizzly is trying to do too much (Bayless comes closest, but he understands his role as the “new OJ”/designated scorer, and we’ll let him ride with that). There used to be a Grizzly who…boy, that horse is so dead rigor has set in, so I’ll back off now. Dig the FGA’s for the starters-15/9/11/11/11. That, fellow Griz fans, is balance. The kum-ba-yah in that locker room has gotta be deafening at this point. Going into the road four-in-five with this kind of momentum is huge. Will the team be able to carry it out west?