Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Here's a shoutout to all the Memphis fans who stayed up late wishing they lived in L.A.
I hope I am not disappointing anybody, but I am taking the high road here in this article. No shots at reporters from L.A., no discussion of the officiating on display in the Staples Center, and no questioning of Chris Paul's "manipulating calls." We're getting our Zen right in here, all positivity today.
Not like it is hard to focus on the positive when you are coming off back to back wins against a dangerous Portland team and an "elite" Clippers team whose last game was a drubbing of Detroit on SUNDAY. Yes, Sunday.
Oh yeah, the Grizz also just set the franchise record for road wins in a season (it's still March), and are guaranteed to return from this brutal road trip with at least a 2-2 split, which, I'll be completely honest, far exceeds the expectations I had for this stretch.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is what this game does for the confidence of this team and fanbase moving forward. Don't lie, you know the voice of doubt was still there. Sure, we had won 12 out of 13, but they were against some pretty lousy teams...forget it. That is all over. This Memphis squad is one that is clearly built to compete with the best in the Association, and who cares if ESPN or anybody else doesn't acknowledge it, the players in that locker room know it, and you can be sure the Clippers know it.
Marc had 21 on 10-14 shooting. Conley 17 on 5-11 and recorded his second double-double in as many nights with 11 assists. Tayshaun scored 18, going 9-15 from the field and scored the 10,000 point of his career in the first quarter, during his 12 romp through the Clippers' defense.
The Grizzlies shot 54% from the floor, but it was defense that won this game. Oh my, the defense. The Clippers started the game hot; Chris Paul looked near unstoppable and halftime L.A. was shooting over 50% as a team. The speculation was true. Defense just can't win games in the NBA today.
But then the Clippers scored 33 points in the second half.
Chris Paul committed 5 turnovers in the fourth quarter. That's one more than he had in the previous four games. Couple that with the six points he had in THE WHOLE SECOND HALF and boom, you have effectively and totally shut down one of the best closers in the NBA.
Carrying only a seven point lead into the fourth, you could here the collective groan of Grizz fans as they knew that this was the time where the CP takes over, the Grizzlies don't make shots, and the Clippers somehow sneak out another win. That was the old Grizz.
These new Grizzlies? They outscore the Clippers 21-16 in the fourth, and continue to do the things which they know will work. Little things. Like continuing to feed that behemoth of a man from Spain, or passing the ball, and not completely losing their heads whenever a call went against them or L.A. started to make a run.
A lot could be said about Prince's performance in the fourth, as well. How he provided veteran leadership and offensive efficiency, and how his style of play when the pressure is on stacks up against someone who used to play for Memphis. But let's be honest, if that horse hasn't ridden already then tonight it was effectively booted out of the stable.
The Grizz are now in firm control of the third spot in the West. Not trying to be pessimistic, but a strong close to this road trip is vital to keep that hold. We will worry about that later, though. For now, let's enjoy this huge, huge win.
Grind on baby.