Yes, it’s a road win. Yes, it’s a second consecutive road win (in a place where the Grizzlies have traditionally had a hard time winning). But…some of the things that have been making Grizzlies fans uncomfortable all season were still there. Not in enough quantity or magnitude to make the Grizzlies come out on the short end of the ledger, but they were there.
Our seven things? Yep, some of that uncomfortable stuff is in there…Thing one: Another great game of ball movement for the Grizzlies and facilitation by the two guys who are best at it-Gasol and Conley each had nine assists. Unselfishness can’t be the only answer-this team has good chemistry and no real heroball guys. The tweaks to the sets are leading to more assists, and one way it’s happening is when the first option doesn’t work, ball goes back out high to a wing/big…the Grizzlies are moving the ball from side to side much faster. There are still stretches where Conley holds the ball too long, but the ball movement is gratuitous, even excessive, because…
Thing two: sixteen turnovers. Sure, the team had thirty assists, which would have seemed insane for the Grizzlies last couple seasons, but sixteen against a not-awesome defensive team like the Kings is a bit much. We can expect And the turnovers were harmful-the Kings scored 17 off those turns. The Grizzlies won, so whatever, but still….
Thing three: …they only forced eight Kings turnovers. Sure, there were some good runouts on the back ends of those TO’s, but dangit, I want my league-topping defense back. As any of you “lucky” enough to have read this space over the years know, I’m a big proponent of the 79-75 final score as opposed to the 144-135 (remember when the Grizzlies beat the W’s by that tally IN REGULATION?).
Thing four: Marc Gasol once again scares the pants off the triple-double mark. Sure, he’s still playing too many minutes-but we all know he loves to play as much as he can. However, he’s appeared either annoyed, listless, or gassed for stretches, and we are but ten games into what we all hope will be a 90-95 game season at least. His numbers are coming right along, and his vision while he’s holding the ball over his head is as much a joy to watch as ever, but he’s gotta keep the tank full, and the way he does that is…
Thing five: …COME ON BENCH! None of us wanna sing this song ever again, but in finest Southern Baptist form, “one more stanza” is echoing around the team after this game. Only 19 of the Grizzlies’ 97 came from reserves, and that won’t do. It’s impossible to blame Joerger for overplaying the starters when they kill the opponent, but an elite team (not that the Grizzlies are that just now) will have guys upon whom the coach can rely to hold a lead, and while Koufos had a nice 6/6 in only 13 minutes, the bench just has to produce more points.
Thing six: The Grizzlies’ defense reminds me from time to time of the (read no further if you want to sleep tonight) Iavaroni-esque “force ’em to the middle where the help is” silliness. Except it’s “force ’em to the middle and let ’em have the lane at least to the dotted semicircle”. Playing D like that is not going to go well against the Clippers or the Warriors, the latter of whom will surely be lookin’ to leave Oracle with some bearskins in their pack.
Thing seven: Zach Randolph, handful. Sure, Outlaw burned the Grizzlies once or twice (it’s like he’s taking revenge on Chris Wallace for never successfully securing his services?), but for the second game in a row, the Grizzlies were able to take advantage of a mismatch and ride the big fella to the finish line.
Tougher test tomorrow. Break out the pacifiers and the sandbox toys, it’s Clipper time.