While the Griz showed their mettle late in systematically squashing any final Kings' run with stellar ball movement, good interior passing, and a whole lotta Z-Bo, this game was nonetheless marked by a bit too much inconsistency on both sides of the ball from the Grizz
A tale of two teams, at times.
The second and third quarters of this one offered a glimpse at what has made the Grizzlies so frustrating this season.
After a scorching end of the first from Jerryd Bayless (more on him later), the Memphis bench struggled mightily in the early part of the second, scoring only eight points in the first seven minutes of the quarter. Memphis then proceeded to score 14 points in the final five minutes of the quarter, keying a 47-34 first half lead. Not surprisingly, this late quarter run coincided with Dave Joeger bringing his starters, and most notably Zach Randolph, back in the game.
It was more of the same in the third, though this time it wasn't the bench's fault. The Grizz started the second half strong in scoring the first six points, but followed that up by getting outscored 31-21 for the rest of the quarter as their defense couldn't contain the Sacramento bench (Mike Malone pulled all his starters after their listless start).
One minute, the Grizzlies looked like a well-oiled Hi-Lo offensive machine with a suffocating defense, and the next it looked like Sactown was going to run us out of the building. This type of inconsistency may be manageable against a team like the Kings, but the Grizz will need to play more complete games if they hope to keep pace with the West's elites.
But when that machine was running, ooooh boy did it look good. Running the offense almost entirely through Marc, who finished with nine assists and countless other offence-creating passes to go along with his 19 points, the Grizz were able to get Z-Bo good touches down low and open layups and good looks for cutters Mike Conley and Tony Allen.
Z-Bo finished with 22 for the game, bullying the depleted Kings backline (after Gasol cleaned Chuck Hayes's clock with an elbow in the first) and finishing with the touch we've come to expect from our favourite (get used to that "u", I'm Canadian) baby-faced bruiser.
Sacramento simply had no answer for the Grizzlies' starting bigs, and when Memphis needed it down the stretch, the Grizz were able to go to the well time and time again for easy buckets.
Defensive peek-a-boo (and Travis Outlaw!)
While the Grizzlies played a solid defensive game, aided in part by the Kings' poor first half shooting, the third quarter saw Memphis struggle in their own end, giving up way too much dribble penetration that led to layups and open threes for Sacramento.
They also ran into a scorching hot Travis Outlaw.
No, really, Travis Outlaw.
Outlaw scored 18 points in the second half including 15 in a perfect (5-5 from the field) third quarter, beating the Grizz with drives to the basket, pull up jumpers, and some open three balls.
The Grizz defended the three-point line fairly well in this one, holding the Kings to 30.7%, but a lot of those misses were open looks that Sacramento would like to have back. The third quarter also saw Memphis give up too many open shots again, from all parts of the floor.
For the most part, the Grizz played a solid defensive game, coming up strong around their own basket with good challenges at the rim and forcing the Kings into a lot of tricky midrange looks. The D isn't there yet, but we're seeing improvement.
Gasol vs Boogie, advantage: Gasol
While Demarcus Cousins did show some of his usual flashes of brilliance in this one, including a beautiful lefty layup on Marc, Gasol dominated this matchup with his steady, smart play.
Big Spain held Cousins to just nine points on 4-11 shooting, forcing him into a few of those midrange jumpers that Boogie loves (and his coaches and analysts abhor) while making things difficult for him at the rim and down low.
Gasol also finished with a near triple double (19 pts, 8 rebs, 9 assists) and controlled both ends of the floor for the Grizz. He got Cousins and other Kings' defenders in the air more than once with his clever footwork and patience in the post, something that Boogie could definitely learn from the lumbering but skilled big man.
Mike Conley, rounding out the big three
Conley played one of his best games of the season in this one, playing well within himself on the offensive end (shooting 8-12 from the field) and playing his usual jitterbug defense on Isaiah Thomas and Greivis Vasquez.
You can see the faith Joerger has in him on the defensive end, as the coach subbed Conley in a little earlier than he probably would have liked to after seeing Thomas burn Jerryd Bayless a few too many times on defense in the second half. Once Conley got back in there, Thomas's dribble drives and forays into the paint came to an almost complete stop, and the little point guard could barely even sniff a good look at the hoop.
Maybe more importantly for worried Grizzlies fans, Conley looked great shooting from behind the arc. He finished 3/5 from the three point line in this one, and his form looked good. If the Grizz hope to succeed on offense this year, Conley's going to have to have his whole arsenal of righty and lefty floaters, quick drives, and three point marksmanship operating at a high level.
- Something interesting I've noticed, and I'd love to see some advanced stats on it, if possible: Jerryd Bayless loves to shoot when going to his right. I don't mean just shooting on the right side of the floor (which is easy to check out), I mean when he's dribbling right. In this game, Bayless was 3/4 going right, and 0/3 every other time, by my unofficial but obviously perfect count.
- Speaking of jumpers, does anyone in the NBA miss short more than Tayshaun Prince? Just chuck one long once in awhile if you're going to miss, Tayshaun.
- That one-touch behind-the-back pass from Marc to T.A for a layup. I might've watched it four times. *drool*
- The Grizzlies bench needs to find a way to stay afloat when the starters leave, especially when they're without Marc and/or Conley.
- A bad game from Mike Miller, who looked horribly slow on defense and couldn't seem to get open for any of those dagger three's that we so love. Smart move by Joerger to cut down his minutes a bit in the second half.
More from Grizzly Bear Blues:
- Memphis victorious at Sacramento: The Three Grizzly Kings Conquer
- Grizzly Bear Blue Grind Prophecies: Run As Vasquez You Can
- Grizzlies at Kings Game Poll: 'Tis a cruelty to load a falling man
- Memphis Grizzlies Zach Randolph still drawing paycheck from Trailblazers
- Sifting through the defensive woes of the Memphis Grizzlies
- Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings: Kissing Cousins