The Grizzlies began their five-game home stay last Monday night with a loss to the Spurs that left them a game under .500. After last night's 93-83 win over the Houston Rockets, Memphis has since flipped their record, concluding the home stand a game above even. Next step: Shake the magnetic force of that damn .500 mark that has been pulling the Grizzlies near the last two weeks.
The Rockets game last night was -- along with last Friday's victory over Indiana -- one of the more encouraging, if seemingly fleeting, performances lately for the sometimes shooting-challenged Grizz. In short they scored well from everywhere: 48 percent from the floor, 5-for-9 from three and 18-of-21 from the line along with stifling defense, which we'll get to in a second. The even keel scoring from start to finish was huge, and showed just how important playing regularly solid is for Memphis, rather than at times playing as highly efficient world-beaters and others with a lethargic ineffectiveness that drags the team into the muck from time to time.
A word on Tony Allen
: It is not often that a team, down eight going into the fourth quarter, would not even get their leading scorer up off the bench once during the final frame, but that's what happened with Houston's Kevin Martin last night. Allen -- who was apparently informed by O.J. Mayo
of Martin's recent prowess over the Grizzlies -- shut Martin down so completely that his first stint of the second half was also his last, as he finished with zero
freaking points and only three shots taken in 19 minutes. For a volume, consistent scorer like Martin to get a mere three shots up speaks to Allen's elite perimeter defense on a night where he knew it would be needed and how the power to just simply erase
someone like that from a game is a rare weapon the Grizzlies, with Allen, have at their disposal.
Overall, the extended stay at home went pretty well, as it wrapped at 3-2. A loss to San Antonio cannot be taken too roughly as they've been playing better than anyone in the West over the last week or so; the convincing wins over playoff contenders Indiana and Houston were no doubt promising, as was a victory over the Love-less yet game Timberwolves
. The Utah loss on Sunday night was the ugly duckling no matter which way you look at it -- do those Memphis Tams uniforms need to take blame? -- either by itself or in comparison, and really, that was the one that could've made this home stand feel better than it does now. With the win last night, Memphis still sits ninth in Hollinger's Playoff Odds
with a 60 percent chance of qualifying; a full 10 percent behind Houston, and a challenging weekend home back-to-back with Denver and Golden State looms.
While those numbers are fun and interesting to watch fluctuate (well, we hope) after every game, tonight, with a weird little quick stop in New Jersey to play the Nets before returning to Memphis, the Grizzlies cannot afford to let their focus and/or energy waver in the same way. The Nets have lost six straight and eight of their last nine, which really only means a loss would be entirely regrettable for a team needs to keep pace until Zach Randolph returns
. With another solid, steady game like last night, the Grizz should be fine, and one game further from the .500 mark. Should be.