One of my closest friends is a Knicks fan, so my favourite topics of conversation with him are :
- Laughing at his reasons why Lebron should opt out and play for the Knicks
- Bringing up how the Knicks players were all having tantrums last season against the Griz, when a few questionable calls went against them
So, thank God we didn't collapse in the fourth
3 early offensive rebounds had me thinking 'one of these games?...really?', but the Grizzlies recovered and started playing some solid mud-ball against a team that likes to stay clean and shoot jumpers. A strange big vs. small-ball battle emerged and it was a race to see who would be more of a liability, Z-bo guarding Melo straight up or Melo on Big Spain. Of course the Grizzlies won out and the Knicks brought in a Melo/Amare/Chandler lineup by the 5 minute mark with the Griz up 12-8.
Tayshaun had a great quarter, scoring easy, timely buckets when we needed them as a veteran should. I think the jumper he hit had the highest arc of any this season, so hopefully this is a sign of a 'better not trade me' stretch. Ed was pounding the glass, Koufos had an amazing block on Amare and Calathes made up for the worst floater in the world with a minute left by closing the half with a buzzer beating layup.
17 : 22 - Advantage Memphis
Vintage Mike Miller alert!
Calathes and Mike Miller showed their Florida connection early in the second, with Mike going for 8 quickfire points all off Calathes no look passes. The Grizzlies defence was working well, and below you can see here Ed pressuring Prigioni and forcing the pass to Amare. Koufos has already rolled to the front of the basket and with Amare remembering Kosta blocking him at the close of the first, he was settling for long pick and pop twos.
Of concern was James Johnson committing 3 quick fouls when tasked with guarding Melo (again!), but Z-bo was able to also send Tyson to the bench halfway through the quarter, resulting with the Grizzlies just overpowering the Knicks til its close. I'm not sure which match-up the Grizzlies should have exploited the most out of Tayshaun/Felton, Z-bo/Melo or Marc/Amare, but the fact that we had 3 easy offensive options turned out to be a good thing.
My favourite stats from the half :
- Calathes 5 assists, Knicks with 4
- Knicks 0/9 from three
- Memphis shooting 52.5 %
50 : 37 - Memphis
To start the third, these were my favourite match-ups to watch, Prigioni trying to chase Conley, Melo guarding Marc and Z-bo guarding Iman. A combination of fouls and laziness let the Knicks back into the game and 4 minutes into the second half the Griz were over the foul limit, with the score 54 : 51 to Memphis. Although Marc did get Tyson's fourth foul, the Grizzlies offense was really stuttering, and rather than run high post sets for him, I thought the Grizzlies needed more pick and rolls from their big man. The below 'kinda high low' play worked well with Z-bo feeding a rolling Marc, but the Griz seemed intent on capitalising Tayshaun on JR rather than Marc on Melo.
Koufos came to play when Marc picked up his fourth, and was running the floor well, giving the grizzlies great energy off the bench. He had a sequence of a great block and finish up the other end whilst playing great D on Amare, but what was concerning was who the Grizzlies played him with. Rather than force the Knicks to put Melo back at the 3 by making him guard Z-bo or Marc, they closed the quarter with a Calathes/Lee/Tay/Johnson/Koufos line-up, a small-ball unit that would allow the Knicks to play the way they wanted to.
64 : 66 - Memphis
Mike Woodson finally thought of a play to run, which resulted in an Amare jumper and a tie game at 66 : 66. Unfortunately though they just had to run that play again which resulted in an Amare charge the next possession, and some more mudball was initiated. My favourite bits were Calathes' pull-up, Z-bo's stepback and this defensive possession, which unfortunately resulted in the lighting of Tim Hardaway Jr. with a 3pt bailout and the foul.
In hindsight it may have been better to not have Z-bo play center, and leave gaps in our perimeter D, but this was a good moment. Marc Gasol was back in, but halfway through the fourth the Knicks were up 84 : 77 and it looked bad with their shooters starting to heat up. A Miller 3 brought some momentum back with about 5 minutes left, but it also brought back the Z-bo at center lineup which had me worried.
Although I'm still not sure how we pulled this one out, I do know that in some order Mike Conley scored 9 in those last 5 minutes, Courtney Lee blocked JR and was pumped up, Mike Miller hit a big 3 whilst the Knicks' answer was an airball from JR and a contested 3 from Hardaway. Oh, and Calathes came in as a defensive substitution.
I wish these games ended with the Griz up 15 or so but I suppose that's why we love the Grizzlies!
I think I'll bring up with my friend:
Tyson Chandler's legs
- Prigioni and Amare as the worst pick and roll in the league