Zach Randolph : (C+) 36 MIN 10 PTS 5-13 FG 11 REB 2 AST, +9
Had trouble getting the ball in the post during the 1st quarter, and when he did have the ball, was often matched up against Noah so he wasn't able to physically dominate his way to the basket. Some patented nifty shots plus his characteristic rebounding helped their 3rd quarter surge. Even though he missed his fair share of shots he was able to draw enough attention that created offensive rebounding opportunities for his teammates, overall a passable game which brought back the team's identity that was sorely missed at Brooklyn.
Tayshaun Prince : (F) 22 MIN 0 PTS 0-2 FG 1 AST 1 BLK 1 TO, -4
Mr. Invisible strikes again, by my count it takes him an average of 3 to 4 terrible games before he has a decent one, so we're not going to expect him to explode for a another 10 point game in a few more days. The playing time that he currently receives pretty much transfers perfectly straight to James Johnson, I really hope this happens soon as I really see this as the move that will put a jolt of energy into the starting unit. I have an idea for Prince: Fine him $2000 for every 2 point jumper taken beyond 12 feet, $1000 for every 3 pointer taken that's not on the corner, and $5000 for posting up a smaller defender BUT TAKES A FADE AWAY JUMPER, maybe it'll give him some incentive to play to what little strengths that he has left, which is to finish around the basket and (sometimes) the corner 3. The lack of other contributions like rebounding and hustle is also super frustrating to watch.
Marc Gasol : (B+) 33 MIN 18 PTS 8-16 FG 10 REB 1 AST 3 BLK 5 TO, -5
In order for the Grizzlies to get far this season and beyond, they must stick to their Grit n Grind style, and the only way gritting and grinding works perfectly is when Marc Gasol dominates on the left block while Zbo does the same on the right. We all know what Marc can do at the high post, but he is finally getting the message that he is a mismatch against almost anybody in the league in the low block. The past two games he is finally taking advantage, getting any shot he wants and protecting the paint menacingly with blocks, deflections and forcing opposing guards off their routes. This is the Marc Gasol that we know and love. Had some sloppy turnovers but you'd expect a bit of that with the ball in his hands so much.
Courtney Lee : (D+) 28 MIN 6 PTS 3-8 FG 2 REB 1 AST 1 BLK, -11
Dave Joerger might have read my last post and did exactly what I thought was required, subbing Lee out with Miller before the 1st quarter ended and managed his PT throughout the game. Had a similar tired looking game with off-target jumpers and getting beat defensively both on-the-ball and without the ball. It's time for Lee to try and get closer to the basket for some easier buckets to put the pressure off a bit first before extending to longer range shots. Personally I think 28 to 30 minutes a game is perfect for him with so much firepower available behind him (TA / Miller).
Mike Conley : (C-) 31 MIN 12 PTS 4-15 FG 5 REB 7 AST 2 STL 2 TO, +3
Outside shot is still way off, still using too much finesse around the rim instead of going harder to the rack, needs to attack the basket with more conviction instead of relying on his evasiveness all the time, had a torrid 1st half shooting the rock and was beaten defensively by Augustine a couple of times but kept his teammates involved and minimised his turnovers. Was finally able to get back on track in the 3rd quarter by (surprise surprise) getting rewarded for driving the lane, and played some good disruptive defense. All in all an improvement to his last game but still far from his best.
Tony Allen : (B) 25 MIN 6 PTS 2-6 FG 5 REB 1 AST 2 STL, +12
I still can't believe TA was mentioned in trade rumours before the deadline, FO were so desperate to offload Prince they contemplated on gift wrapping TA. Thank god it never materialised because it would have caused a riot on Beale Street. No opposing team can contain his energy, his junkyard dog mentality is truly enjoyable to watch. Was probably a bit over-excited this game as his FTs looked terribly flat and damaged front rims, needs to find his inner peace when he steps to the line. His cringe worthy knee-buckling missed layup was the highlight on an otherwise forgettable 1st half for both teams on national TV.
James Johnson : (N/A) DNP- CD
Say what? JJ really got a DNP-CD with no apparent injuries? Prince got burn and Dr. JJ didn't? Joerger must be saving him for tomorrow? *HOPE* *HE* *STARTS*.
Nick Calathes : (B) 17 MIN 0 PTS 0-0 FG 1 REB 5 AST 2 STL, +5
His boxscore line says he didn't attempt a shot, yet he CLEARLY took a 17 foot leaner with about 40 seconds left in the 1st quarter. Conspiracy anyone? Who got credited with the attempt? Better get Sherlock Holmes on the case. Jokes aside, unlike Prince he was able to influence the game with minimal shot attempts, setting up Koufos multiple times and played offensively with good rhythm. He even shored up his defense on Augustine in the 2nd half, a sure sign that he was engaged and focused throughout his court time.
Mike Miller : (A) 20 MIN 14 PTS 5-7 FG 4-5 3P 5 REB 2 STL, +19
SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH. This is vintage Mike Miller with deadly shooting, above average rebounding and completely changed the complexion of the game late in the 3rd quarter with his NBA Jam-type fireballs. His supposed defensive liability didn't even get exploited by Dunleavy and Butler. A for Awesome in my book.
Kosta Koufos : (A) 19 MINS 12 PTS 6-8 FG 6 REB 1 AST 1 STL, +13
If we measure each NBA player by "activities per minute" on the basketball court, Koufous will probably be a perennial All-Star. Always looking for work, he even out-hustled Noah to the ball on more than one occasion, which is quite an impressive feat. Overall opposing teams must feel some real angst when big bad Marc sits down and hyper-active Kosta comes straight in, this guy is forcing Coach Joerger to play him more and more. Unfortunate shout out to Ed who is doing the exact opposite.
Jon Leuer : (B-) 7 MINS 7 PTS 2-3 FG 1-1 3P, -1
The Leuertenant got rewarded from his solid Nets outing by getting some 1st half minutes. Bulls players obviously got caught off guard and allowed Leuer to hoist from deep (probably didn't even know his name, let alone his game). Just the two missed FTs deflated his efficient outing. I really hope he get's Ed's backup minutes from now on with more and more stretch 4s around the league, he adds definite value to the Grizzlies.
Chicago Bulls : (C)
The Memphis Grizzlies of the East, they rely so much on Joakim Noah's contributions, any sort of less-than-perfect game from him spells trouble for the Bulls. Noah was everywhere during the 1st half but having to guard both Marc and Zbo really took a toll, passes started to get sloppy and was actually out-hustled on several occasions as the game progressed. Rest of the starters were mostly non-factors even though they chewed off heavy minutes. This team is definitely in need of a bona-fide scoring star (Oh right Rose with his 0.5 knee). Taj Gibson was raining jumpers which opened up his inside scoring opportunities. Augustine was ridiculous in the 2nd quarter but both Calathes and Conley shut him down in the 2nd half.