Now this is starting to feel like our team. In front of a subdued crowd of fans, Memphis defeated the Atlanta Hawks Sunday night. Mike Conley led the way for the Grizzlies with 21 points, 13 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. Old Man Miller chipped in 15, coming off the bench for the first time since Tony Allen's injury.
Things got off to a great start for the Grizzlies, as they stormed out to a 9-2 lead in the games first few minutes. Memphis would lead virtually all of the quarter, with the exception of the brief moment that Atlanta tied the game at 17 behind two of Mike Scott's seven first quarter points. Despite that, the Grizzlies would take a 21-18 lead into the second quarter.
Atlanta took advantage of the Grizzlies' all bench unit, led by Nick Calathes, opening the quarter on an 8-2 run to take the lead. The Hawks led by 3 win Conley checked back in and he and Mike Miller combined for a quick 8 points to help Memphis regain their advantage, and they would take a 7-point lead into halftime.
In what has become an all too familiar refrain, the Grizzlies came out flat to start the third quarter, giving up 13 points within the first four minutes, as Atlanta cut the deficit to one point. After a Memphis timeout, the Grizzlies would get three quick buckets from Kosta Koufos to help pad their lead. Up by 12, Atlanta went for six points in the final 1:21 of the quarter to close the gap back to just six points heading into the final quarter of play.
Atlanta started the quarter of with fire, scoring 10 points in the first 2:15 of the quarter, taking a 3-point lead. Memphis responded with a run of their own, dropping 12 points in the 2:15 stretch of the game that followed a timeout. Led by the Mike and Mike show, the pair scored 16 combined in the quarter, the Grizzlies would hold on to win 108-101.
Games Notes from the Legend-wait for it-Diary
- Kyle Korver is automatic in warmups. I watched him not even hit the rim for a solid five minutes doing some pre-game shooting. He's as dangerous of a shooter as there is in the game, and Memphis did a fantastic job of denying him the ball all game. Korver finished with 9 points on 10 shots. Hat tip to Courtney Lee.
- It's an old man's game! Mike Miller (33) had 15 points on 6-8 shooting, and Elton Brand (34) for the Hawks scored 8 points on 4-4 shooting in his limited minutes.
- Nick Calathes had a decent game on Friday, but he got worked over in this one, good for a -13 in 10 minutes of game time.
- I never encourage anyone to follow me on anything ever, but you should definitely go to my twitter and check out the video link I posted of the grown man "dancing" during "Whoop, There it Is!" Classic.
- Courtney Lee was 7-12 from the field, good for 15 points and a +13 on the night. No disrespect to Jerryd Bayless, who despite his flaws, always played his heart out for the Grizzlies, but Lee has proven in just a few games that he can be a much better fit than JB ever was.
- Can't say enough about the continued growth of Mike Conley. He's averaging 27 points over his last three games. I have to wonder if DeMarre Carroll had to re-introduce himself to Conley before the game, because he is a completely different animal than he during Carroll's brief time with the Grizzlies.
- The Grizzlies shot 40% from 3 tonight, and are shooting 35% from beyond the arc over their last 6 games.
- After getting only one steal in their previous game, the Grizzlies got 13 in this one, including seven combined by Mike Conley and James Johnson.
The win pulls the Grizzlies to 17-19, and they have a phenomenal chance to be right at .500 by the end of this week. News also broke tonight that Marc Gasol was cleared for 5-on-5 drills in practice, and will be closely evaluated and considered for game play for the game Tuesday. Things are definitely looking up in the Bluff City, as the Grizzlies are very close to righting the ship and setting sail towards good playoff seeding.