Grizzlies 103, Jazz 94: Grinding Out a Win

Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

The Grizzlies won their home opener against the Utah Jazz 103-94, but it wasn't pretty — especially not in the first quarter.

It’s a good thing the Grizzlies’ bench showed up to play against the Utah Jazz, because the starters got off to an abysmal start. The first Grizz possession of the game was a missed layup from Tony Allen, which set the tone for the rest of the first frame.

At one point about halfway through the first quarter, I looked up from the court at the fancy scoreboard showing the two teams’ stats, and the Grizzlies were shooting 11%, were being out-rebounded 13 to 9, had 4 points in the paint, no transition points, and were losing by double digits. It was at about this point that I tweeted that I had gouged my eyes out. That wasn’t the case, but the way the team was playing, I’d considered it.

It was not how I had wanted to spend my first home game sitting in the media section. The crowd was dead even though (or maybe because) David Stern and new "managing partner"/International Man of Mystery Robert Pera had made speeches beforehand[1], and the offense was sputtering, missing point-blank layups and bricking open jumpers.

A funny thing happened, though. About halfway through the first quarter, Quincy Pondexter was subbed in for Tony Allen – earlier than usual because Tony was bleeding. Once he was in the game, he couldn’t stop dunking on people’s heads. The rest of the bench followed suit. Pondexter ended up with 14 points, one of five Grizzlies who scored in double figures. The bench guys – Pondexter, Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington (who had a sick dunk of his own on a fast break), and Jerryd Bayless – all played well.

After halftime, the starters picked up where the bench left them, pounding the ball inside, where Marc Gasol ended up with 28–8–8 and Zach Randolph had 16 points and 18 rebounds. Randolph had more trouble with Derrick Favors than he did with Paul Millsap, although both players scored in the double figures for the Jazz. As Tom already mentioned, the Grizzlies outscored the Jazz 56–44 in the second half.

From there on out, the Grizzlies never relinquished control, although the Jazz never went away, either. Utah looks like a team that’s going to surprise some people this year. Matched up a team that’s not as strong inside as the Grizzlies, they’re a real threat.

Really, though, the Grizzlies have to get their act together with the shooting. In three games, they’ve shot 38%, 45%, and now 41%.

Quick Notes

  • The Grizzlies shot 41.8% as a team, so nobody was shooting lights out, but Rudy Gay had a bad night. Rudy scored 15 points on 17 shots, and 8 of his points were from the charity stripe. At one point in the game both Gay and Tony Allen were shooting 2 for 11. He was continually taking contested jumpers over two guys, and when he did take it to the rim, had trouble converting. Through the first three games of the season, Rudy has gone 11–21, 7–18, and 3–17. If he continues to be this inefficient, it’s going to cause more problems with the offense.
  • Zach Randolph still looks like he’s struggling with his shot a little. He missed a lot of shots he usually makes, going all the way into the second quarter before making his first basket. He’s still very active under the basket though – as his 18 rebounds confirm – so I figure his jumper will come around when it comes around.
  • Marc Gasol wrapped up (and clotheslined) Randy Foye with 3 seconds left in the game – it was a flagrant foul, but it looked much worse than Gasol intended for it to be – and Mo Williams tried to start a fight with him. I know who I’d bet on in that one.
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  1. Pera’s speech consisted of a couple of sentences, starting with "So…", and then he said "Go Grizz." One has to figure he’s not quite comfortable addressing a crowd of 18,000 people yet.

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