I need not tell Grizzly fans how tough we are to beat at home, but after our third win in three game against the Spurs on our home gym, I think we've made that well-known.
Naturally, the two moments in last night's game that everyone is talking about is the Zach Randolph 3-pointer with 41 seconds remaining in the game and the Manu Ginobili shut-down on the final play, where he wasn't unable to get a shot up as time ran out. Those were the key moments of last night's 91-88 victory for the Grizzlies. Both exciting, and both equally unexpected.
Randolph, on the season, had made just 8 threes, though he wasn't really adverse to taking long jumpers -- having attempted 43 treys this year. Randolph's range is limited, so I'm not going to sit here and defend the shot, but it's a lot easier for scorer like Z-Bo to find the bottom of the net when he has about three feet of space in front of him. And he did make 37% of his jumpers between 16 and 23 feet this season, following up a year in which he made 42% of jumpers in that same range. Credit Z-Bo for taking what was given to him.
We also need to credit Marc Gasol and Mike Conley for their lock-down defense on the "Manu no-shot" play. Honestly, the decision to not call a timeout there was a bit curious. I know that leaving the defense to try and set up on the fly often times works in the offense's favor, but you have to admit that such a hectic pace usually favors the team who has less to lose, and in this case it was the Grizzlies. Gasol knew that cheating and doubling Ginobili was the right thing to do. Make someone else take the game-tying shot. And EVERYONE knew the final set was going through Ginobili. Heck, you can almost fault the Grizzlies for not putting all five players on Manu in that spot. Not a single person out there can say that they thought Gearge Hill was going to take the final shot -- even as wide-open as he was. That is where you would think a timeout would have helped. How about putting the ball in Manu's hands coming off a pick on the inbounds pass? That's a pedestrian take, too! A curious decision, but one we're happy to live with.
Tony Allen had his moments, but really, everyone watching at home or at the Grindhouse was screaming at the top of their lungs, "Manu is going to pump-fake and make you bite on defense!!!" And, sure enough, he continued to pump and dump right into Allen's chest, forcing the foul. It was ridiculous! He needs to not bite so much in Game Four.
Mike Conley did a fantastic job on defense on Tony Parker. A nice showing, and one which I hope can carry over. Also credit Conley for getting the offense set and the ball in the right hands -- Z-Bo and Gasol.
Shane Battier did his job. He played some great defense on Manu once Tony Allen fouled out, and as we were talking about in the Thread, he knows his limitations on offense. Which, on this team can be refreshing.
Marc Gasol gets a gold star for recovering from his Game Two performance. He can be, and needs to be the dominant big in this series. Especially now that the Spurs may be without Antonio McDyess, this series is going to continue to go through Gasol.
The bench was a bit pedestrian as well. O.J. Mayo made a huge three late in the fourth, but it was tough to watch Grievis Vasquez play point guard making suspect decisions. In all, they were flat.
The good news is we have the Spurs on their heels. There were a handful of comments from Spurs fans on our thread after Game Two telling us to get used to losing, and now, it's been a little silent. That of course means they're finally starting to fret. We're no easy out, and we know that. I think Spurs fans are starting to get that feeling as well. I'm not saying this series is over -- it's far from it -- but it's now on the Spurs to have to beat us at home, something they haven't been able to do in three games this season.
The Grizzlies just need to continue to execute on offense. Our defense has been great throughout this series, but at times our offense has looked flat, especially when Z-Bo and/or Conley are on the bench.
Game Four is on Monday night, in our house. We can really put the critics to rest by winning on Monday. Until then, let's enjoy the fact that we have the Spurs on their heels and we're starting to gain some respect for our grit and grind!