Well, that was better. Still not great, but better. I’ve got a few thoughts about a couple things, but first, as I am wont to do, I will lay out an analogy.
This game reminded me of….…the many, many times I saw the Grateful Dead. Sometimes, for the first couple tunes, even a practiced GD listener like myself could barely discern one song from another (and no, it had nothing to do with my state of mind-I enjoyed the Dead without enhancements), it would seem like the band were sorta disinterested, song selection maybe not so great…then there’d be a good solo from Jerry, an inspired vocal from Bob Weir, and the band would catch the example and that’d be all she wrote. All cylinders firing, and joyous dancing for a couple hours to come.
That’s how the Griz did it tonight, but they just couldn’t muster up a good enough tune to close out the show.
SUPER entertaining game, though, once the “music” started to congeal properly.
The crowd. Strictly “meh” until the fourth quarter insanity. I was insane (but not profane) as always, but everyone seemed a bit tentative, especially with Conley going down so quickly (more on that later). The glorious atmosphere of last spring finally manifest itself during Q4, but it took a while to get things workin’ in the crowd department. Grade: B-
Dangit, these opening-night injuries. Last year’s home opener, it was ZBo’s tailbone. This year, Conley nastily aggravated an ankle with which he’d evidently been struggling. Yes, Pargo did everything he could, and it was a good night for him-but this team misses Conley as much as they could miss any of the other core four. Pargo was surely the silver lining, though. A nose for the ball, an unwillingness to give up on a play, and seven AST to one lonely TO. Westbrook going donut-for-thirteen also must be attributed at least partially to Pargo keeping Russell from just zipping to the hoop. Grade (untimely injuries): F-. Grade (Pargo stepping in): B+
Item three: Rudy and ZBo starting to figure it out. This is the part that reminded me of the Dead. It’s gonna be so nice when these two guys really start playing off each other like we know they can, and we saw some of it tonight (and if Rudy hadn’t missed those three WIDE OPEN threes, I’d think they were even closer than they seem to be to getting it perfect)…the band is starting to play off each other, executing when necessary and improvising when the time is right. Sometimes they were on the same side of the floor, sometimes not, and that’s ok. Keep it unpredictable. Watching the two of them try pick and rolls is still painful, but they’ll get it right. Grade: incomplete, but the future is bright. I’m talkin’ Timbuk 3 bright.
Item four: Tony Allen. What a massive trainwreck. He did, at least, begin to show some signs of (relative) calmness and a willingness to give up the ball instead of Westbrooking straight to the hoop everytime he touched it. Gotta figure Hollins is layin’ into him to wake him up just like he had to do last season. He’ll get it together, but the growing pains…ouch. Grade: C-
It was nice to see the oh-so-costly Griz starting frontline all amass double-double contributions-that’s something we should all feel like we deserve to see.
It was not nice to see Kevin Durant once again prove himself to be the most talented scorer in the NBA.
It was nice to see Josh Selby get in the game and work through his nervousness as well as he could.
It was not nice to see Josh Selby trying to run an offense.
It was nice to see Pondexter again show me that he can be a contributor on a good team. Pretty heady player with good physical and athletic ability.
It was not nice to see the Griz go without a field goal for the first eight minutes of the game.
It was nice to see the Griz not give up at the end of the game.
It was NOT NICE to see the Griz give up WAY too many threes-the susceptibility to the draw-and-kick has got to be harnessed and mitigated.
A better game, with a better overall effort, but still a ways to go.