Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Well folks, curses are made to be broken, and after a seven year drought, the Grizzlies finally, managed to win a game in Houston.
The last time The Grizzlies won in Houston, Brittany Spears was still dating Kevin Federline. The last time the Grizzlies won in Houston, Justin Timberlake hadn't yet brought sexy back. The last time the Grizzlies won in Houston, we were roughly six years in between Armageddons (Y2K, 2012).
Both teams got out to a sluggish start, with Memphis shooting 1/8 from the field and the Rockets going 1/6. The first quarter was marked by turnovers for Houston, and specifically James Harden. Harden, who finished with a game high 30, had four turnovers in the first quarter, and finished with eight turnovers on the night. The Grizzlies would weather the poor shooting storm with qualities shots and attacks at the basket to get in the bonus with just under three minutes left in the period, and would lead 23-15 after one.
The second quarter would see the Grizzlies shooting woes fall by the wayside, as they would erupt for five made 3's in the period, seeing their lead balloon all the way to 19 with under a minute to play. Lazy defense and well-executed offense helped Houston score six quick points to cut the lead down to 13 entering halftime.
Memphis, a team known for their third quarter offense, got out played for the second straight game in the period. James Harden, who had struggled in the early going, went off for 14 points in the period. By comparison, the Grizzlies managed 15 total as a team. Harden was 3/4 from beyond the arc, and got to the line four times as well. The Rockets would ride his hot left hand to a 23-15 advantage in the period to cut the Grizzlies lead down to single digits at just five.
In the fourth quarter, it came down to who was going to grind harder, and as history tells us, it's usually these Grizzlies who do just that. Houston tied the game twice in the period, still carried by the bearded wonder. Harden attacked the basket throughout the second half, and got another four free throws for his trouble in the quarter. For all of his scoring heroics, Harden had two chances to tie or win the game, and couldn't come through.
With 30 seconds remaining, The Rockets trailed by just two points, and Harden hoisted up a 3 that didn't go in. Then, after a Patrick Beverly foul, and a pair of Tony Allen misses from the free throw line (a theme throughout the evening) Harden got a wide open look from about 18 feet out, and clanked it off the back iron.
Game Notes from the Legend-Diary
- In the first quarter, Sean Tuohy said "Great fast break by Tony Allen." I have to believe this is the first time this has ever been said in the history of forever.
- With 8:52 left in the second, I complimented Austin Daye, something I know happened for the first time in the history of forever.
- From 1:41 left to play in the third, to 7:13 left to play in the fourth, The Grizzlies managed only four points off of four free throws.
- 3 fouls were called on Marc Gasol in 24 seconds. In comparison, Jerryd Bayless often can't get off one shot in 24 seconds. ZING!
In the end, The Grizzlies did what they do best: grind it out and survive. It wasn't pretty, Mike Conley had a pretty porous shooting night, going just 4/14, 0/4 from beyond the arc to snap his streak of five consecutive games of 20 or more points. When you go seven years between victories in one city, you generally just take the W's however you can get them.
The win was Memphis' 54 on the season, and with a Denver loss, puts them in a virtual tie for third/fourth place in the West. Tomorrow night, the Clippers come to town in what will be the biggest game left on the schedule, a win would bring them one step closer to guaranteeing home court advantage in the first round, whereas a loss would make it much more likely they finish with the fifth seed.