April 6, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Considering how often the Grizzlies often come into a game flat and have to work themselves out of an early hole, it was nice to see them come out strong and control the entire game. Although the Miami Heat may have the most talented trio in the NBA, it's obvious to anyone that they are no longer even thinking about the regular season. Meanwhile, Memphis is in the midst of a 3-way battle for the 4th seed. As the common cliche goes, one team simply wanted this win more.
Surprisingly enough, when the Grizzlies charged out of the gate in the first quarter, it wasn't one of their high-paid players like Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, or Zach Randolph who led the charge. Instead it was Marreese Speights, the afterthought on the 76ers roster before Memphis acquired him as a knee-jerk reaction after Randolph went down in December with an injury. Speights quickly drained two shots, grabbed a rebound, and knocked down two free throws in the first quarter. The bigman would finish the game 15 points (6-9 FG, 3-3 FT), 5 rebounds, and a team-high +14.
His energy was infectious. Although he struggled to score for most of the night, Rudy Gay was a terror on defensive, especially in the first half; he collected 3 steals in the first quarter alone. Mike Conley (15 points, 4 assists, 3 steals) and Marc Gasol (10 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks) also gave strong performances.
Yet, tonight's biggest impact came off our bench. Zach Randolph once again played the role of super-sub with 14 points and 14 rebounds. O.J. Mayo chipped in 10 of his, and Gilbert Arenas had it going from deep. All five of his shots were from beyond the arc and he drained 4 of them. Overall, seven Grizzlies reached double figues in points. This balanced attack was a sharp contrast to the Heat, who saw their Big 3 combine for 60 of their 82 points.
Elsewhere in the NBA, both LAC and Dallas lost last night. Memphis has now passed Dallas, but remains a game-and-a-half behind Los Angeles. Regardless, this was a good win and will hopefully fuel continued good play.