Now that's more like it! The Grizzlies, carried by two guys who probably can't lift 400lbs combined, got a complete team effort tonight as they ran past the Suns 110-91. Starting for the injured Zach Randolph, Ed Davis had 21 and 12 on 8-11 shooting and 5-11 from the free throw line. Jon Leuer had a game-high 23 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. Mike Conley added 18 points of his own to go with a season high 14 assists.
I tweeted before the game that the Grindhouse currently had the tenacity of a wet paper bag, and while that was true at tip-off, it couldn't have been more false by the time the game ended. This was my favorite home game this season. It had everything. Jon Leuer dunks, Tony Allen draining 3's, little man confrontations, Bullverine.
Things started off decently enough for the Grizzlies, who scored their first three buckets in the paint, and led by five throughout the quarter. Ed Davis scored seven of his 21 points in the first quarter, getting to the line on three separate occasions. With the game tied at 19, the Grizzlies held the Suns scoreless over the last 1:58, and got two big buckets from Jon Leuer, including one of the three thunder-dunks he had on the night.
In the second quarter, you could feel and hear a collective groan in the Forum, as it looked as if it was going to more of the same from these Grizzlies. The Suns came out on a 10-2 run over the first three and a half minutes of the quarter, behind strong play and good recognition of mismatches on the Morris brothers. The Memphis defense got roughed up for 35 points in the quarter, as they allowed the Suns to 14/17 (82%!) in the quarter, and they trailed by eight, 54-46 at the break.
Memphis came out on fire in the second half, determined to not lay another home court egg. They started the quarter on a 13-5 run to tie the game, leading to a Phoenix time out, then quickly took the lead and never let up. The Grizzlies outscored the Suns 36-20, and led 82-74 heading into the fourth.
The final frame was all Memphis, as they quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead to run away from the Suns. Jon Leuer scored 11 of his career-high 23 in the quarter, turning the Grindhouse into full fledge LeurNation. The Grizzlies outscored the Suns 28-17 on their way to the 110-91 victory, just their fourth at home this season.
Thing I liked most from this game: Jerryd Bayless and Goran Dragic and the classic little man scuffle. In the third quarter, Jerryd had a Paul-esque contact sell to draw a foul, and Dragic didn't care for it at all, and gave him a definitive shoulder bump to let him know it. The official quickly T'd him up, and the two "had" to be separated, as they were both about to start a serious back and forth of "What? What, dude? What?"
Thing I liked least from this game: Watching Tony Allen hobble to the lockerroom before halftime. With Marc out indefinitely, and ZBo ailing from his big ZToe, the Grizzlies could ill afford to lose the Grindfather for any amount of time.
Game Notes from the Legend-wait for it-Diary
- After the last game, I said it would be a long time before Quincy Pondexter got a DNP-CD again, and of course tonight his box score reads DNP-CD. Now obviously, when I said that, I was unaware of the stare down that he gave his coach, and tonight was clearly punishment for that. It looked like it might just be a coincidence at first, but when he called on Jamal Franklin over Quincy, you knew exactly what Joerger was doing. Props to Joerger for that too. Doesn't matter how well Q plays, that kind of attitude is unacceptable. Let's hope this is all behind them now.
- Speaking of Quincy, I think he clearly knew he was back in the Dave Joerger Free-Range Time Out Facility. He was always the first one up off the bench to cheer on his teammates, constantly clapping and high-fiving everyone. He looked like a kid who was trying to show his parents he could behave well enough to spend the night at his buddies house.
- Jon Leuer, aka The White Mamba, aka Vanilla Thunder, aka More Cowbell, aka The Minnesota Mauler, aka The Real Dr. J finshed one rebound shy of a double-double, and was playing with much more confidence. The silver lining to these injuries may be that it gave our bench players the confidence to play better and allow the Grizzlies to effectively play a deeper rotation.
- It is amazing to see how well Ed Davis has played over the last 6-7 games as compared to the first 10. This is the player that the Grizzlies thought they were trading for, and if he would have been playing this well all along, I firmly believe he would have already received his extension.
- Tony Allen was 1-2 from the three-point line tonight to raise his 3-point shooting percentage to 26% on the season. Jerryd Bayless was 2-3 from the three-point line to raise his 3-point shooting percentage to 23% on the season. You did not read that wrong.
- Nick Calathes entered the game with 4:31 in the third. He was pulled with 1:32 left to play in the quarter after a missed jumper, a shot clock violation, and 6,000 dribbles around the court. Boos rained down, heavily.
- Mike Conley had 18 and 14 on the night and having a good shooting night before I said "This is the best shooting night Mike has had in a while." He was 4/6 at that point, and he finished 6/15. My apologies for the jinx, Mike. (With a small shout out to the hounding defense of Eric Bledsoe)
- Not only did our fearless leader Chris Faulkner fail to use his Grind Prophecies powers to hook me up with the little redheaded girl (jerk), but he also may have lost them for good as Mike Miller not only didn't score, but he got stuffed at the rim by Goran Dragic. Badly. It hurt my feelings for him.
This was a good team win for Memphis over a very athletic opponent, and hopefully this builds some confidence for the boys in blue, as they look to improve on a surprisingly bad home record.
They are far from a finished product, but players continue to improve up and down the roster, and there were several encouraging signs throughout the night. They'll need all the confidence and improvements they can get on Thursday night as the Clippers come into town looking to avenge an earlier loss to the Grizzlies this season.
 It's that thing where everyone wears red shirts and tries to get Hugh Jackman to attack them.