Picture this: Dennis Green, standing alone in the middle of the floor at the FedEx Forum, looking toward the Grizzlies locker room, screaming, "THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!" In typical Grizzlies fashion, Memphis won an ugly game against the Utah Jazz in a competition that was much closer than it should have been for a majority of the game. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol led the way for Memphis, combining for 41 points and 21 rebounds, and Mike Conley added 18 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals.
The first quarter was a thing of beauty, everything Grizzlies fans could have hoped for in a game against a team like Utah. Memphis led the entire time, as the Jazz scored only 4 points in the first six minutes of the game. Had it not been for Trey Burke, Utah may have asked for a running clock. The talented rookie point guard scored 13 of his 16 points in the quarter, and the rest of his team was a combined 2-11 with 6 points. The only problem with that is, it made Mike Conley take notice, and he responded with 10 points of his own in the quarter, and Memphis led 30-19 after one.
Memphis would continue to play their traditionally stingy defense in the second quarter, but they would see their offense stall out. After scoring 7 points in the first 2:01 of the quarter, Memphis would score 11 the rest of the period, including scoring only 2 points from the 9:59 mark of the period until only 4:50 remaining. Still, despite the porous offensive effort, they led by 16, 48-32 at the break.
(Insert literally any paragraph about literally any other third quarter from literally any other game from this season, just make sure you change the names of the teams and players, you don't want to look like a hack) Utah started the third quarter on a 9-2 run, and Memphis didn't really have any answers. The Jazz would storm all the way back to within 3 points before the Grizzlies finally started to stop the bleeding. Memphis cashed in on 10 free throw attempts in the final minutes of the period to extend the lead back to double digits before heading into the final quarter of play up 74-63.
The fourth quarter made things much more interesting than anyone would have wanted, as Utah would come all the way back to tie things up at 84 with 5:39 left to play. But the desperate Grizzlies responded with an immediate 6-0 run, and held the Jazz to only one bucket the rest of the way en route to a 96-86 victory.
Game Notes from the Legend-wait for it-Diary
- Tony Allen had 10 points in 19 minutes off the bench, but he was filled with many more tricks than treats tonight, though he was only credited with two turnovers.
- Serious concerns about the Grizzlies tendencies to completely fall apart on offense in the third quarter and other long stretches in games. If only they had some sort of shot in the arm on their bench. Like, if only they had an athletic wing that could come in and create transition offense and highlight plays. Like, maybe just some sort of rabid dog who could come in and turn over the chess table...oh well.
- The Grizzlies got to the line 25 times tonight, and cashed in 22 of them.
- Zach Randolph had a really good game, but got COMPLETELY REJECTED on a dunk attempt by Jeremy Evans. It was ferocious, and I laughed, I won't lie.
- Four points, one assist, and one rebound in 29 minutes. Your starting small forward, ladies and gentlemen.
- The Grizzlies shot 18% from 3 tonight, which is bad, even for them. The biggest concern there is Courtney Lee's shot continues to not fall, and that is something that could be fatal in the postseason. Got to hope he gets hot again soon.
- Tonight was just an incredibly fun night at the forum. Ran into a bunch of friends, and just had some high quality buddy time. Love you guys.
- After scoring a combined 23 points in the first quarter, Mike Conley and Trey Burke only scored 11 combined points the rest of the way, which was kind of disappointing, because it certainly set the stage for a very fun matchup, and it ended up in a bit of a letdown.
The Grizzlies win moves them to 40-27 on the year, and after a Mavs loss, they now sit percentage points ahead of them in seventh place in the Western Conference. They'll now have a night off before facing two of the best teams in the entire league. If you're continuing to keep score at home, 11-4 is the record the Grizzlies need the rest of the way to finish with 51 wins. Coincidentally enough, the Grizzlies are 11-4 in their last 15 games. Now kids, I'm not exactly certain that the universe sends clear and direct signs. Sometimes, you just have to take things as they happen and interpret them however you want to. The road is going to be bumpy over the next few games, but the Grizzlies certainly look up to the task.