First-RIP to Gene Bartow, who passed away this day after a battle with stomach cancer. Bartow was a man who meant an immeasurable amount to basketball-all over the US, but especially here in our corner of the south. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Now, on to the game. I’d love to say that the Griz took this game by the horns and played like we know they can play…which they sorta did some of the time…but they mostly beat a team ready to implode in the Sacramento Kings.
Let’s go past the jump so that you can read about the bad things the Griz did tonight.Ok, sorta kidding about that. But there were a couple things that the home team did do that, had the Kings not wilted under a Grizzly run in the third, could have cost them the game:
-poor decisionmaking on D by the perimeter guys. Yes, the Griz amassed 14 steals, with Allen and Conley combining for seven-but the Kings also went about 8-20 from three while the game’s outcome was still unresolved. It is absolutely essential as the season goes on that Griz perimeter guys stop getting sucked in whenever another perimeter defender is beaten by half a step, especially when guarding someone like Travis Outlaw or The Jimmer. Count on the forward line for help, don’t leave guys who dig launching threes.
-failing to put the foot on the neck from the first quarter. The aforementioned absent-mindedness on D combined with some helter-skelter offense (more on that in a moment) allowed the Kings to come all the way back by the half. Yes, Hollins evidently lit into the team pretty good at the half, ‘cuz the Griz delivered the knockout blow in the third…but for team with its sights set as high as the Grizzlies’, letting a team as discombobulated as the Kings stay in the game after having a lead in the high teens is inexcusable.
-20 assists on 50 made FG’s. Yes, the disjointed defense of the Kings encouraged already somewhat iso-happy players like Rudy Gay and Sam Young to do what they do, and the Grizzlies did not play particularly selfishly-but again, if the Griz can’t get some viable ball movement with quality finishes against a team like SAC, then it’s gonna be really tough against good defensive teams. Also, Tony Allen had some really, really, really bad luck with layups this game. REALLY bad luck. Great D tonight, but he couldn’t make a layup at all.
Yes, I’m being a bit hard on the Griz after a win-but when the goal is a parade on Beale Street in June, the expectations are high. Good things?
-WELCOME BACK MR. CONLEY. All our hearts sank when he went down about three milliseconds into the home opener, and it seems an eternity since then. Physically, he looked great. He, like the rest of the NBA, still has a bit of catching up to do due to the compressed everything, but his timing on triggering the offense is coming right along, and Pargo once again showed that he’s a capable backup (although he was guilty of leaving the wrong guy on D once or twice).
-The utter willingness of Gay and Gasol to carry the load. Yes, parts of Rudy’s game did recall the Iavaroni “era” (shudder shudder), but he knew he had to have a good scoring game, and he got it done. What #22 was able to do was find his space, which is how a freakish athlete like he is can always get it done on offense. And the space is not just outside, or in the lane-he made good decisions about whether to rise and shoot or to head for the hoop. He recognized early on that John Salmons was playing the game like he was more worried about getting to the Rendezvous before closing time, and took advantage of the matchup. Salmons just didn’t care if Rudy got around him, and then he’d get frustrated about no help coming. Demarcus Cousins was an exemplary team member compared to Salmons. Marc Gasol, more than any other player (besides maybe Salmons) was the reason the Griz won the game. Rebound upon rebound (15 total) and a big fat 7-for-10 from the field. Smells like a worthy contract from where I’m sitting.
-Sam Young may have upped his trade value.
-OJ Mayo finally had a (pretty much) deadeye shooting game. Good to see from a guy upon whom the Griz will count heavily for bench scoring. Best part? It wasn’t all off-the-curl catch-and-shoots. He showed great hustle in transition on several occasions, and created his own shot also.
-Positive rebound differential, positive steal differential, and negative turnover differential. Three excellent outcomes in the hustle game.
Next up, the Timberwolves, with the newly crowned KING OF ALL BASKETBALL EVERYWHERE Kevin Love. I do so wish that ZBo were able to play so he could, once again, show Kevy-Kev how the grownups do it.
Way to go Grizzlies…but tomorrow is even more important….