Perhaps Grizzlies fans were a little too rough on Rudy Gay the other night. Regardless, the disapproval did something in Rudy that forced him to come out strong against New York.
More after the jump.
The halftime numbers will show just that - at the half, Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks leading scorer, could only claim 12 points to his name. Big man Amare Stoudemire? Four points. In the panic to score offensively against a tight Memphis defense, the Knicks were forced to defer to another possible scorer.
Cue Iman Shumpert.
Wait? Shumpert? Yeah. Shumpert. Going into tonight's game, Shumpert's season-high was 12 attempts. At halftime tonight, he was chalked up for 3-15. Again: at the half, 15 attempts. Complement the defense that forces the team of Carmelo and Amare to pass the ball to Iman Shumpert for 15 attempts in the first half. That says something.
The Grizzlies numbers at the half were impressive. Mike Conley had 4 assists and Marc Gasol became the presence down low against Tyson Chandler that he needed to be. But the star of the game was also the star of the half: Rudy Gay. In the last seconds of the second quarter, Mike Conley threw the alley-oop and allowed Rudy to slam the rim. Rudy turned around and walked into the locker-room at halftime with 18 points.
Though the Grizziles had a strong lead and held momentum going into halftime, by no means was the game a lock. The third quarter, however, changed that. Gasol became the obnoxious, grunting, Spanish obstacle to every Knicks offensive drive and was a blocking machine. As a matter of fact, in his attempt to crossover in front of Gasol, Carmelo Anthony was forced to leave the game in the third with a tweaked ankle and didn't return to the game.
If the third quarter is the poster-child of this victory, then Tony Allen is the poster-child of the third quarter. Tony Allen was a defensive monster that completely forced the Knicks off balance. In the words of Reggie Miller, "Tony Allen has been getting his hand, his jaw, his face, every body-part in every Knicks pass for the Grizzlies."
The Grizzlies followed Allen's example for the rest of the game and reflected an aggressive, knit-and-grit style basketball that surged the Grizz through the playoffs last season. For the first time this season, the guys in the Memphis uniforms were living in an identity. It's hard to ignore the statistic: at the end of the third, the Grizzlies claimed 16 points in the paint. The Knicks? 4. And, go figure - Zach Randolph wasn't even on the court.
An excellent game by the Grizzlies that came at a much needed time in the season. I debated writing a sentence or two about the Grizzlies next game against New Orleans, but I decided against it. Lets sit in tonight's big national-TV win and enjoy it.
Player of the game: Rudy Gay (26 points, 5 rebounds)
Defensive player of the game: Tony Allen (5 steals, 5 rebounds, and a whole lot of elbow grease)
(And, only because I have to do it. See thread.)
The "Alex Smith" award: OJ Mayo (18 points, 8 rebounds)