Things didn't start too well for the Grizzlies: Marc Gasol was getting straight up BEAT by Al Jefferson. Grizzlies offense had no flow to it and every point was a battle. The Jazz controlled the game physically and mentally and somehow found their way into the paint with ease.
Then, the second half happened, and, for some reason, the Grizzlies learned the magic that comes with three-point shooting. Why isn't this out every night? I can't tell you that. But it came out tonight.
(The recap below goes a bit different from past recap formats: it goes from quarter to quarter and tries to capture the mood of the court. May stick with it, may not. Regardless, it's something different)
More after the jump.
First Quarter - Jazz 30 (30), Grizzlies 28 (28)
Didn't look too pretty in the first quarter for the Grizzlies. The Jazz came and attacked the paint early - the Al Jefferson - Marc Gasol matchup made Marc Gasol look like he was a small Spaniard girl child. There was virtually no defense from the Grizzlies in the paint and, honestly, it made the Jazz look better than they actually are.
Sure, the defense in the paint was bad - does that mean the perimeter defense was good? No. The first 8 points from the Jazz came from outside shooting. It would have been more, had not some of the shots been sloppy in form and execution.
It was unfortunate watching this quarter - Memphis was getting beat at their own game. The pace was being controlled by Utah: Grizzlies turnovers came too frequently and Utah did their job on getting points off each of Memphis' three turnovers. Devin Harris led the Jazz with 10 points.
Memphis hung in there with key points from Marreese Speights inside and OJ Mayo outside. The charge was led by Mike Conley, though, who had 11 points at the end of the first half and played with the highest energy I've seen in him all season.
Second Quarter - Jazz 21 (51), Grizzlies 22 (50)
The quarter started with a bang as Arenas nailed a good-looking three pointer. Unfortunately, that was the closest the Grizzlies came to "feeling momentum." The Jazz defense was again playing tough on Randolph, Speights, and Gasol: the Grizzlies were getting beat in the paint.
So what happened? Gasol backed off the paint just a bit. All of a sudden, he began taking 15-foot and 17-foot jumpers and...making them? Yes. He ended the first half with 10 points of his own.
The turnovers continued - for roughly two minutes, nearly every Memphis possession was stolen or given up in some form or another. Luckily, though, the Jazz didn't capitalize on every turnover as they did in the first half. Memphis defense allowed too many shots: there was a point when the Jazz were able to claim 60% shooting on the night. If the Grizzlies give up their defensive game, there isn't much past that. Lastly, Al Jefferson was winning the battle against Marc Gasol at the end of the half with 14 points and 2 rebounds.
There wasn't much flow to the Grizzlies offense, but they hung in there with the occasional layup and clean looking assist. Ball movement looked horrible on one possession and, on the next possession, looked all-star-game quality. Points added up, though, and the point differential at the half was only one.
Third Quarter -Jazz 25 (76), Grizzlies 20 (70)
Rudy. Gay. This was his quarter - in general, he found ways to score. He was patient, his looks were good, he was aggressive, and he executed when he needed to execute. His teammates took note and followed his game; the game was a slower pace than the first half and decisions looked like they were thought about beforehand.
Things turned around for the worst soon, though. Grizzlies perimeter defense crumbled and the Jazz took control on the outside. Wherever the Grizzlies weren't, the Jazz found ways to be there and take open-shots. The Gasol 15 foot jumpers slowed down and weren't falling as well as they were in the first half. With two and a half minutes left in the third, the Jazz had a 6 point lead and carried that lead to the end.
Fourth Quarter - Jazz 22 (98), Grizzlies 33 (103)
The quarter opened with another deep jumper from Gilbert Arenas. Maybe that's why the Grizzlies signed him? To open up quarters with slick jumpshots but then run away and sit on a couch the rest of the evening.
OJ Mayo continued dominating from the outside.Though things weren't looking perfect, the Grizzlies were playing aggressive. Aggressive play leads to free throws, and free throws lead to points. At one instance, the Grizzlies put nailed 4 consecutive free throws to come within 2 points.
On the inside, things were still ugly. Al Jefferson continued his dominance against Gasol and Speights. The strategy from the Grizzlies switched from trying to beat him there to trying to beat the Jazz on the outside. Two OJ Mayo missed three pointers and one Gilbert Arenas airball led Coach Holllins to change his strategy and go back on the inside.
Gasol and Conley led the charge, here - scoring four-points back to back in the paint. Gasol was done taking moves from Jefferson - he dug his way and earned his point at the free-throw line. After that, he turned around and helped OJ Mayo out on the pick-and-roll, causing the Forum to be an absolute uproar.
Where would the Grizzlies be with Marc Gasol's 2011-2012 season?
And then, heck, why not? With an OJ Mayo-3pt-fueled crowd, the team returned to outside shooting. After a three pointer from Rudy Gay and another from Mayo, the Grizzlies were looking at 7-for-13 shooting from the three-point line.
Yes. The Memphis Grizzlies. 7-for-13 from the 3pt. Next thing that happened? The Grizzlies had a 5-pt lead and closed the game in fashion.
It wasn't pretty, but the bears walked out with the win because of Rudy Gay and Mike Conley with excellent outside shooting. But hey - our wins are never that pretty, are they?
Big win tonight for the Grizz. The surge continues. Leave your thoughts below.
Player of the Game: Rudy Gay (26 points, 12 rebounds)
Sidekick of the Game: Michael Conley (17 points, 6 assists)
Wait...can you do more of this, please? O.J. Mayo (20 points, 4-5 three-point shooting)
The "I'm going to beat you and you know it" Award: Al Jefferson (20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists)