Oh, only a few days have passed since the Griz collectively choked away a most winnable game in Phoenix. No doubt that the experience of that was still fresh on the team’s mind.
It sure was nice to see our Griz in person again too. I was, shall we say, fiending to witness a Grizzlies win.
And lo and behold, Jason Richardson didn’t get a chance to annoy me again. 7-18 just can’t annoy me too much.
The Grizzlies just flat-out won this game. A silly statement, perhaps, but you know what I mean.
As is always the case when PHX is involved, crazy matchups were the name of the game. We saw Acie Law on Jared Dudley. We saw Hedo on Marc Gasol.
But the craziest one was just a random one, and best illustrated how and why the Grizzlies won this game. Mike Conley got switched onto JRich down in a corner, and Nash and Richardson tried not once, not twice, but three times to work a lane to the basket for Richardson, but the Grizzlies’ five players all maintained poise and positioning, Conley didn’t freak out, and PHX ended the possession without a score.
The yin/downside to the Grizzlies’ excellent defensive yang? Failing to play 24 full seconds of defense. Numerous times, Nash and his pick-and-rollcohorts (Turk, Hak, Frye, whoever) were able to shake things up with 5 or less on the shot clock to find the open shooter or the roller.
Steve Nash is one of the best point guards there’s ever been. Just amazing every time. And I’ll bet that cat could play until he’s 45 should he so decide, unless his back finally gets to him for good.
Poise and mettle. That’s how games are won, and this was one heck of an example of that. Hollins was lettin’ the boys have it at timeouts tonight, and whatever he did, worked. Not letting Suns mini-runs rattle the foundation. Stuff the lane and run to shooters. Simple, huh?
Poise and mettle, first off, were embodied in Zach Randolph tonight. 23 and 20, are you freakin’ kiddin’ me? Randolph did double up on some rebounds, as he always does-but his crazy numbers demonstrated how small ball can be successfully and soundly defeated. ZBo showed both sides of the sword-the faceup “jumper”, and the lane drive/hook. It didn’t hurt that Hedo, Robin Lopez, Hak, and whoever else the Suns threw at ZBo could only hope to stop him by elbowing and/or slapping him in the face due to the fact that none of those guys has a snowball’s chance in Hades of guarding him effectively. Thing I liked best about ZBo tonight? He got a nasty look on his face every time he DIDN’T get a rebound when he was under the basket. One guy got over 20% of the available rebounds in the game. Crazy stuff.
Poise and mettle was Mike Conley handling the ball for several possessions during the fourth quarter when he was consistently being aggressively trapped near the halfcourt line. He didn’t let yet another poor shooting night keep him from running the team in competent fashion, and he didn’t let it keep him from getting four more huge steals.
Poise and mettle was Rudy Gay doing his thing in the third, when the Grizzlies went +10. He didn’t let the fact that he had only four points for FOREVER in this game keep him from going for double digits in Q3..not coincidentally, Q3 is when the Griz gained some separation. He’s expecting more of himself, and he should. That’s always been the issue, all the way back to the shots of him getting a snooze in on the bench at UConn.
Poise and mettle was Xavier Henry showing that he’s quite likely a young man who will stick in the NBA. He played smart defense, communicating and listening to his teammates, and using his length to its full advantage on the perimeter. When he didn’t get a steal or a deflection, he changed what the man in front of him with the ball could plan to do to keep the play rolling. Made plenty free throws too, and did very well for a young rookie in some pretty crunchy minutes in Q4.
Poise and mettle was even Sam Young, bless his little heart. The three pointer he made (his only make of the game) was one of the biggest shots of the game, and gave the Grizzlies three more points on that lead.
Hmmm…the difference in made free throws was ten points. The Grizzlies won the game by ten points. Coincidence? I think not…bring on the Mavericks!