Rudy had no trouble at the line last night, or anywhere really, as he dropped 32 points on the Phoenix Suns.
I've long suspected that several members of the Grizzlies' organization are secret readers of Straight Outta Vancouver. Granted, this belief is fueled only by my irrational self-confidence, but last night there was a load of circumstantial evidence to suggest that I may be onto something. What follows are several quotes taken directly from yesterday's game preview and its comment section. You can be the judge of how accurate these thoughts ended up being.
Becoming married to the long jumper is a real way to shot ourselves out of the game. We need to work transition offense, get buckets off of turnovers, and work the inside. We're really starting to get good movement cutting to the basket, with Marc Gasol setting up the high-post. So I'd like to see us continue to work that angle.
Rudy Gay was being guarded by Jared Dudley because Grant Hill, Phoenix's best perimeter defender, was out with an injury. While Dudley is a decent defender, he can't hope to contain Gay. However, prior to last night's game, Rudy had yet to break the 30-point threshold this season. As of late, the Grizzlies have relied on a balanced attack, would he be aggressive knowing that he could get anything he wanted against his defender? Rudy's line for the night: 32 points (13-20 FG, 6-6 FT), 7 rebounds (4 offensive), 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block.
More importantly, it was the way in which Rudy scored last night. Yes, he still took plenty of jumpers, but at no point did he appear to forcing things. Instead, he took his time and was rewarded for his patience. There were several beautiful sequences in which he passed the ball to Marc Gasol in the high post, cut to the basket, received a pin-point pass from Gasol, and finished. The thing is that those are easy shots for Rudy, and once he makes a few of those, it gets him into rhythm and opens up the floor for his jumpers. Chris Weber once said that when a good player is able get a few easy lay-ups or dunks, the rim suddenly becomes the size of the Grand Canyon. This was easy the most comfortable I've seen him play all year, and if he can play at this comfort level during the playoffs (without necessarily having to score 30+), we'll be fine.
The rest of the team had no trouble scoring as well. Although Phoenix is a much better defensive team than they're given credit for (19th in the league), they're not exactly the Bulls or anything. As a team Memphis shot 50% from the field and 84% from the line. Additionally, the Grizzlies didn't force a ton of turnovers, but every time the Suns appeared to be clawing their way back into the game, someone would swipe the ball for an easy finish in transition and it would absolutely destroy the Suns' momentum. We also killed them on the glass with a 43-31 rebounding advantage. As everyone said in the preview, simply put the Grizzlies had no business losing. The only disappointing news from last night is that Dallas and both LA teams won their respective games, meaning we don't gain any ground in conference standings. However, it's a lot easy to stomach that coming off such a decisive win.
A final shout-out to all the members of SOV. A game like this goes to show that yes, this Grizzlies community does know what they hell we're talking about from time.