Yeaahhh, now. Five in a row. But…things still aren’t just exactly perfect.
Or should that be “five in a row, even though things still aren’t just exactly perfect”?
Glass is half full. Grizzlies are still improving, and when things get exactly perfect (that’d be when ZBo comes back, for those who wonder when that zenith might be reached), this team will be as good as last year’s, if not better.
As I said, ONCE AGAIN, the Grizzlies jumped to a huge lead..only to have it disappear like a burrito in front of Eddy Cur…whoops. Guess that one won’t work, for a while anyway.
As always, there were a few things that really made the difference in this game, and a thing or two that MUST improve, ‘cuz the schedule ain’t gonna be this easy forever. First, I want to point out what I consider the most important stat of the game (ok, it runs a close second to the final score): OJ Mayo with zero attributed turnovers. Way to go OJ. Yes, he’s been shooting very well (keep uppin’ that trade value), but he’s had games where it’s been easy to see him pressing way too much on the offensive end, whether it be in transition, on a bad pass, or on a fumbled catch or dribble. What we’re starting to see from OJ is enough control of his dribble drive to keep the defender a step or two off him, allowing him to size up the shot. Mayo is a good Rip-esque screen/curl shooter, but if he’s given about two seconds after the catch to size up a shot, he’s deadly. It is also, thankfully, hard to get a TO in that situation.
Second…the Griz, by my count, forced eleven Piston TO’s in the fourth. When Tony Allen was brought in to get in Brandon Knight’s way, things changed. Conley was dog-tired (who could blame him) and couldn’t stay in front of Knight (more on that later), and TA came and did his stopper thing. For the game, the starters amassed nine steals…five for TA and four for Conley. Gotta think that the starting frontline could have scored a few steals, but the ball never got that far. The Grizzlies’ backcourt were swift to capitalize on a disorganized Pistons possession (of which there were many), leading to the boys in blue scoring 32 points off Pistons turnovers.Part of the reason the Grizz forced perimeter turnovers? A well-defined aggressive move toward double-teaming. It worked on several Pistons players, and it will be interesting to see if Hollins continues the tactic (do the Kings have anyone worth double teaming? uh, lemme think…).
Third..Rudy Gay reappears. Or maybe he just had a not-so-good game in New Orleans? Is the hip bothering him still? His shot looks smooth, but his frustration with himself just hasn’t yet gone away completely. He’s had several great scoring games recently, and it will bear watching whether the ankle/knee tweak he suffered this game will affect his willingness to attack the basket over the next few games.
Also, Marc Gasol is awesome. A “subpar” 17/6/3 performance (hahaha-most teams in the NBA would LOVE to have Marc, wouldn’t they?
Things that need fixing:
-Actually…one involves the said Gasol. This game, he was often drawn away from the hoop on D and placed somewhat away from the hoop on offense, and lo and behold, the Grizzlies got KILLED on the glass against a team that is not exactly full of Elvin Hayes clones. Yes, Monroe is very capable, as is Jerebko, and even the Artist Formerly Known as Big Ben-but the youth and length the Griz possess should have been able to overcome the Pistons’ rebounding efforts…just goes to show once again that Gasol is, right now, the most important Grizzly.
-Now, regarding Brandon Knight. Guards like him (methinks Kemba Walker is a potential comparison?) are usually not quick enough to leave Conley in the dust..but if Conley keeps playing almost 40 minutes a night, it’s gonna catch up with him, even a young athletic cat like MC11. It also didn’t hurt that Knight was hooking with the off arm, D-Wade style, on pretty much every penetration move. Finally got called,too. Principal point? Pargo and/or Selby must, must get their flow workin’-or Conley is gonna wear down, and it’s gonna hurt.
Shot of the game goes to…Josh Davis? Yes. When it was 68-61 during Q3, and the Grizzlies had that “not again” look on their faces, Davis hit a huge three to put the lead back to double digits. No, Josh Davis is not gonna get write-in votes for the All-Star game from anyone except maybe his Mom-but that was a huge hit, gotta give him credit for that.
Get home safe Grizzlies, another winnable game awaits at FedEx Forum….