The Memphis Grizzlies game is always shown on national TV on Martin Luther King Day. The game, a defensive battle with the top two defenses in the NBA going head-to-head, featured 10 ties and 19 lead changes.
First Half - Ugly, ugly, ugly.
If the whole game was ugly, the first half was extremely unflattering. A degree slightly above ugly, whatever that can be. The first half gave the Memphis crowd 15 lead changes and six ties. In the final 9 minutes of the half, the Pacers ran away with offensive basketball on a 15-4 run, erasing Memphis' largest lead of the half. Halftime showed a 43-39 lead for Indiana.
The starting front-court in the first half did not show the strengths of the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph, who many said held the key to victory against a strong defensive Indiana team, had only three points on 1-6 FG. Rudy Gay had 4 points on 2-11 shooting, and Marc Gasol had 2 points on 1-3 shooting.
Starting Frontcourt at Halftime
Rudy Gay - 4 points, 2-11 FG
Zach Randolph - 3 points, 1-6 FG
Marc Gasol - 2 points, 1-3 FG
Combined, the frontcourt went 4 of 20 on 39% shooting in the half.
Don't want to ignore this statistic, though. The Memphis bench looked great in the first half. The bench put up 18 points, eight of them from Wayne Ellington. Ellington also connected a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter.
The Second Half
Our defense finally came through and showed the nationally televised crowd we truly are the second-best defensive team in the league. In the first 8 minutes of the second half, Indiana had taken only six shots and had six turnovers. In the time, Memphis scored 14 unanswered points to finally take the lead. At the time, my spirits were high and extremely optimistic.
In the third quarter, Indiana shot 8 of 12 in the field to make it 65-63 heading into the final quarter.
The lead remained in Indiana's hands until a Mike Conley three pointer went in with 2:10 left to give Memphis a 79-78 lead. Paul George turned around and showed Mike Conley the name of his game with a three pointer of his own, making it 81-79 Indiana.
Enter Tony Allen.
Tony Allen, doing his Tony Allen thing, grabbed an offensive rebound with 30 seconds left and stole the ball after an Indiana rebound. When the ball was in his hands, he dished it to Zach Randolph to tie the game at 81 with 10.5 seconds remaining.
Enter George Hill.
George Hlil was fouled with 1.4 seconds remaining to earn a trip from the line. He missed the first one, sending the Forum crowd into a frenzy. Everybody immediately began doing the personal "basketball math:" "Okay...if he misses the second free throw, we grab the rebound, call a timeout, get the ball to halfcourt..."
George Hill didn't miss the second free throw and Indiana earned an 82-81 lead.
My emotions were all over the place at this point. On one hand, I wanted the ball to go to Rudy Gay. To whom else would it go, especially after the famous Rudy Gay buzzer-beater YouTube clip? On the other hand, I couldn't helpbut think: please, please, please don't give the ball to Rudy Gay.
The ball went inbounds. One dribble. Step. Step. Step. Pull-up jumper from 24 feet out over Paul George's raised arms. A banking swish. Buzzer.
The above written order was not reality. In actuality, the buzzer came just before the pull-up jumper.
The calling was reviewed, but I knew in my heart Rudy didn't get it off in time. I knew it. The fans at the arena knew it. Rudy knew it. Zach Randolph knew it. And the worse part? The entire Indiana team knew it, who already began celebrating the win as the referees reviewed the call.
It's always hard to lose this way - but before we go blaming the game on Rudy Gay's lack of ability to shoot the clutch ball, please go back and review the first half numbers on the starting frontcourt. At the end of the game, the numbers didn't get much better: Rudy Gay ended with only 14 points, while Mike Conley and Zach Randolph scored 13 apiece. Gay had eight rebounds.
Randolph had seven.
Furthermore, the Grizzlies were dominated defensively. The Pacers forced the Grizzlies to 15 turnovers with 11 blocks, 8 steals, and 42 percent shooting.
There will undoubtedly be a temptation to blame this whole thing on Rudy Gay. Heck - maybe even blame it on Coach Hollins for giving Rudy the ball in the first place instead of the leading scorer for the Grizzlies, Wayne Ellington. I admit, if I didn't watch the game and only saw the highlights, I'd to the same.
This came in as I was writing the recap. Definitely don't want this to be ignored:
Ouch. RT @kyleveazey: Hollins says final play was designed for Ellington in corner, but he could not get free.— sbnGrizzlies (@sbnGrizzlies) January 21, 2013
I may take a LOT of slack for this in the community here at SoV, but I'm going to say it: it's not Rudy's fault. In reality, Rudy gave himself the best look he could have given himself over the strong defense-man Paul George. He didn't get it off in time and we lost the game. But when I look at the numbers: the Grizzlies lost the game well before Rudy Gay's last shot. He's just unfortunately becoming the poster-snapshot of this loss.
The Grizzlies move to a 26-14 record and have lost 4 of their last 6. We got the Lakers on Wednesday. Maybe there's a win there?
Next 5 Games
|Los Angeles Lakers||Wed 01/23||7:00 PM CST|
|Brooklyn||Fri 01/25||7:00 PM CST|
|New Orleans||Sun 01/27||5:00 PM CST|
|@ Philadelphia||Mon 01/28||6:00 PM CST|
|@ Oklahoma City||Thu 01/31||7:00 PM CST|
Last 5 Games
|Indiana||Mon 01/21||12:00 PM CST|
|@ Chicago||Sat 01/19||W 85 - 82|
|Sacramento||Fri 01/18||W 85 - 69|
|@ San Antonio||Wed 01/16||L 82 - 103|
|Los Angeles Clippers||Mon 01/14||L 73 - 99|