Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
The Memphis Grizzlies were without Mike Conley tonight, and it sure showed.
The Grizzlies somehow escaped with a victory tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers, taking it 84-78. Seriously, I'm not even sure how they won it. I mean, I know how they did, but they almost didn't deserve to win.
In Conley's place was Jerryd Bayless, who for the most part played an awful, awful game. For Bayless, it was long jumper after long jumper, in which there were sets where they was the only player on the Griz to touch the ball. No, seriously.
Bayless finished the night with nine points on 3-of-11 shooting, six assists, three turnovers and a steal. In the end, it wasn't all "that bad," seeing as he did knock down the dagger 'J'. Still, the Grizzlies could have looked and played better with a more pass-first point guard out there.
The real "heroes," if you will, were Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who combined for 38 points and 14 rebounds. They also, though, coughed the ball up a combined eight times and allowed for Anderson Varejao to embarrass them off the glass.
Randolph actually snapped his 11-game double-double steak to start the season, finishing with 19 points and 8 rebounds.
The worst part of this game was having to put an 'L' next to Varejao's name. He was just... amazing. Finishing with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 22 rebounds (8 offensive!!) in 37 minutes. No one had a better game than Varejao. And if he had any legitimate help, especially in the 4th quarter when the Cavaliers looked gassed and pedestrian, the Cavs would have easily won this game.
Really, the Grizzlies just looked out of sorts without Conley out there. Credit Quincy Pondexter for his 10 points off the bench, when the Griz needed it the most, but they just never really got into a flow on offense. The rest of the bench combined for four points. Yup, four.
One last criticism, the Grizzlies have looked pretty bad on the defensive glass. The gave up 14 offensive rebound tonight, after allowing 21 offensive boards to the Nuggets just two games ago. The key in both games were active rebounders -- the Cavs having Varejao, the Nuggets having Kenneth Faried. Something to keep an eye on going forward against active, athletic teams.
For more on the Cavaliers: Fear The Sword