…The Griz just couldn’t get it done against such a bunch of giants. A couple of nice second-half runs were met with threes, bunches of scoring by the best basketball player in the world (no, I don’t mean Derek Fisher), and Marc Gasol’s inability to throw a golf ball into a swimming pool from the diving board.
Several interesting things, though, about this game. Just what were they?
-Eighteen steals. And none of these were “garbage time” steals, since there really wasn’t any of that (actually, everything after the first quarter could loosely been regarded as such, but we’ll be nice here). Sure, the Lakers turn the ball over fairly often anyway, but 18 steals? That would be impressive against any team, and how the Griz did it showed that it was their intention to do so-it wasn’t just an uncharacteristically sloppy game for the Lakers. The Griz intercepted passes on the perimeter, clogged passing lanes in the paint, plain old poked the ball away from guys. Active hands, and when one combines such good defensive behavior with the fact that the Grizzlies kept their own TO count in single digits (and should have been lower-OJ had a TERRIBLE night as far as holding possession), winnable just rolls off the tongue. However, the downside…
-Still WAY too many open jumpers for the opposition. When you play passing lanes, if the ball gets by you, a quick screen or swing pass leaves an opponent loitering around on the perimeter. Blake hitting threes was the second-biggest factor the Griz lost this game. It’d be easy to say that Kobe beating senseless everyone on the Grizzlies to get and make a shot whenever he wanted, but he does that to whomever whenever. The length of the Lakers’ screen-setters was just too much (save us Hamed???) for the Griz’ perimeter players to contest, and that length was also a major factor in the number one reason the Grizzlies lost the game…
-Lakers: 53 boards. Grizzlies: 34 boards. GAME. OVER. FOLKS. That just won’t work. It was easy to tell as the first half turned into the second that Gay, in particular, started working harder on the glass…but all that tells me is that he wasn’t crashing it as hard as he could from the outset. Focus problem? Likely not, as he played pretty hard-but the boards must get as much of Rudy’s attention as any other part of the game in ZBo’s absence.
-The love affair with Jeremy Pargo didn’t last too long, did it? Matt Moore made apt use of the English language in coining the term “possession assassin” in reference to Pargo, and I could not agree more. He, more than any other Grizzly, is LOST without ZBo on the court, especially against a team with either Bynum or Gasol staying between Pargo and the goal on a pretty-much-constant basis. With his pentration ability negated, Pargo’s inexperience at the NBA level as far as directing teammates into position for second and third options comes to the fore. Despite Selby’s impending legal issues, I’d be a bit surprised if Hollins didn’t give him a shot at a rotation or two over the next games, just to see if he can stir up the…water…on offense a little bit. Going up against fellow rookie Reggie Jackson on Tuesday could be a nice opportunity. We’ll see.
Strangely enough, for a game that the Griz seemed destined to lose almost from the jump, the team gave good effort and made an effort to play to their strengths. It is worth noting that the Griz’ two leading scorers for the game, Gay and Speights, also had the worst +/- ratings on the team. Hmmm. It was hard not to be pleased with Speights’ knowledge of where to place himself on offense to get open for that 14-footer, and his effort level was improved (and will further as time passes, I’d venture to say)-but he has to be able to play “true to his size”, which he’s not quite doing yet. He’s a legit 6’10” at least with the muscle to get it done inside, but it doesn’t seem like he’s had anyone try to make him do it thus far in his NBA career. Come on Lionel, light that fire.
As things usually go in the NBA, it just gets tougher with the Thunder on Tuesday. They are beatable, but the Grizzlies will have to avoid foul trouble that plagued them in this game EARLY in Q1 if they are to have a chance to get back on the winning track.