NOT BREAKING NEWS: The Grizzlies are habitual ugly winners. That cannot be said enough. Probably more recaps than not this season have started with the words "it was not pretty" or "it was not easy." It never is for the Grizzlies. Ever. Tonight, Referee Ed Malloy and his crew would not allow it. It felt like a college basketball game, which is to say seemingly every other time down the floor, someone was shooting free throws. The Grizzlies shot 29 free throws while the Kings went to the line 28 times. Both teams made 22 free throws, so it is not like that was the difference in the game. It did make for an annoying basketball game though. The Kings arena name has the word sleep in it, and that was appropriate tonight with all the stoppages in play.
The Grizzlies nearly blew it at the end of the game with uncharacteristic mistakes from Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies had a one point lead with about six seconds left, and Gasol made a boneheaded inbounds pass that was nearly intercepted by Marcus Thornton. However, he made up for his mistake on the defensive end in classic Gasol fashion. Thornton came around the right side of a screen by DeMarcus Cousins and attempted to fire up a three that would have won the game for the Kings had it gone, but Gasol wasn't serving soup today, boys and girls. He blocked it straight up into the air. Game over.
Conley's late game mistake came in the form of a missed free throw. Conley was not able to make the second free throw that would have made it a three point game with 5.7 seconds left. So, the Grizzlies were forced to sweat a little more at the end of the game. However, Conley deserves immensely more praise than criticism for the game he played tonight. Conley is a barometer of consistency in the NBA, and tonight was no different. Conley finished with 25 points on the night, hitting 9-14 shots from the field and 5-6 free throws. Conley performances are as consistent as Tyrion's witty jabs in Game of Thrones.
Other than Conley, the difference in the game was the Grizzlies ability to create easy offense. The Grizzlies scored 22 points in transition. Pondexter was another Grizzly that played an impressive game offensively tonight. 8 of Pondexter's 17 points came in transition. In the wake of Jerryd Bayless' absence, Q-Pon carried the Grizzlies bench. The five players that came off the bench not named Quincy Pondexter scored a whopping eight points combined. Get well soon Bayless. The Grizzlies were able to leak out on offense at just the right time all night, and it led to easy baskets all night
like this one for Q-Pon (Editor's Note: Sorry, the video wouldn't embed properly.) Transition points ultimately won the game for the Grizzlies tonight.
- Keyon Dooling is still attempting to find his role within the team after just being added to the roster last week. He played 10:34 tonight, and while he did not do anything impressive, he tries incredibly hard. He obviously needs to work to get his offensive game back, and he had an embarrassing airball tonight. He finished with 4 points on the night. His greatest contribution thus far has been his effort on defense. He has not been great, but he looks like the type of guy that will give everything he's got night in and night out. That's the Grizzlies type of guy.
- Darrell Arthur did not play tonight, and it was a coaches decision. Don't read too much into that, but it is interesting. Hollins could be attempting to light a fire under him to get the 2011 Arthur back. Arthur hasn't given the effort on the floor recently that Hollins expects from all his players, and it seems he might be paying for it.
- Tony Wroten received 5:20 of game time, and he was able to do some nice things. He made some nifty passes while penetrating the lane, and his one shot was a thing of beauty. He brought the ball up the floor where Ed Davis set a screen at the three point line, and Wroten went over it to his strong side, split his defender and the hedge defender, and finished strong at the rim. Although we all love to see Wroten, he still plays out of control. If Hollins stays patient and Wroten shows that he is coachable over the next couple years, he could develop into an outstanding point guard.
- I was subjected to watching the Kings broadcast, and the high point of the night by far was them playing Shutterbug by Big Boi while going to a commercial break before the game started. I am sad to admit that I refer to Shutterbug as "the song from NBA 2K11." What am I doing with my life?
- DeMarcus Cousins, once again, torched the Grizzlies on the offensive end of the floor. Cousins finished with 22 points and 9 rebounds, and at times he looks supremely talented on offense. It is scary to think what he could do if he would pull his act together. He was able to get the better of Gasol, defensive player of the year candidate, at the beginning of the game tonight. It was impressive. However, Gasol got the last laugh.
- IF YOU DON'T READ ANYTHING ELSE IN THIS PREVIEW, READ THIS: The Kings' Jason Thompson talked briefly about his foundation before the start of tonight's game on the Kings broadcast. In 2010, Thompson had a twenty-five year old cousin tragically taken from the world due to heart disease. The Jason Thompson Foundation is working to raise awareness about heart disease amongst athletes, children, and young adults. The organization is working to fund cardiac research to help eliminate heart disease. I know he plays for the other team, but some things are bigger than basketball. If you feel compelled to donate to his foundation, click here.