Team cohesiveness hasn't been a strong suit of the Memphis Grizzlies since, well, ever. In the pre-playoff days, it never really seemed like anybody liked Pau. You can't just exclude the franchise player like he's the nerdy European. In the playoff days, people seemed to like Pau even less. Doesn't make sense, but it's true.
And since the post-Pau days, team morale and locker room togetherness has been piss poor. Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo openly feuded last season, something that received little press but was obviously apparent. Mike Conley couldn't exist with Kyle Lowry platooning, which is of course absurd. Darko ripped his freaking jersey off.
There was no reason to rip a jersey off tonight though. The Grizzlies moved the ball nicely. All the starters found shots. Rudy Gay looked like a franchise player, as he has the past few games. It's not like the Kings are exactly world-beaters, but they beat us last time, and this time we killed it.
When the national media claimed that adding Zach Randolph and Allen Iverson was going to blow up the solid young locker room, it was like, "What solid young locker room?" With Iverson out of the picture, however, a nice little bit of camaraderie is starting to appear.
The terrifying part is that Zach Randolph has been a part of it. Z-Bo has been saying the right things to the press. He has been sharing the ball. He hustles, at least as much as he can hustle. He cleans up Rudy and O.J.'s out-of-control messes. Over the past couple games, Randolph has constantly had his arms around Rudy and Marc's necks, and I don't think he's just tired from all that hustling.
Zach Randolph is acting like a veteran leader for this team, especially for Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay. Is it a surprise that those two are rocking with their backs to the basket? Yes. It is a surprise. I think I know the culprit. And I like it. That doesn't mean I want to see Rudy stop dunking or want Marc Gasol to start shooting that one handed post shot that should never, never freaking ever, go in -- but it is encouraging.
Rockness Monster: Rudy Gay is starting to play more like a franchise player every night. Not a championship team caliber star, mind you, but a franchise player. His game is becoming a lot like Carmelo Anthony's, but more Paul Pierce in terms of contribution. And yes, I think that he could have a very Pierce-like career.
U-Turn: Mike Conley played not so awful tonight. Also Marcus Williams came astonishingly close to a DNP-CD because Jamaal "Ashey Larry" Tinsley just straight rocked the fast break. He doesn't have his sea legs under him on defense yet, but knows how to move the ball up the court.
Bitter Limon: O.J. Mayo is terrible at defense almost all the time. I used to think he was good, but that's just not true. He lined up almost exclusively against Tyreke Evans tonight, and vice versa, and Reke Havok routinely blew past him for an easy bucket or to draw a foul on one of the bigs.
Sleeping With the Enemy: The Kings got a lot of ticky-tack fouls and violations, specifically travels and reach-in calls, early on. The Grizzlies got them too, but not until after it made some sense. Anyways, it clearly got in the Kings players' heads, which in turn diminished their efforts. Omri Casspi continued to look great, so did Tyreke, and Sergio Rodriguez looked decent too. But I didn't see the back-to-wall effort this team was supposed to show.