The Memphis Grizzlies blew up in the second half, just outright hustling to this win against the Cavaliers. The bench might not have done much, but the entire starting lineup put in an incredible night's work.
O.J. Mayo kept the Grizzlies in it through the first half, Rudy Gay closed it out on both ends in the second half, but Zach Randolph was a fixture throughout. Randolph led the Grizzlies with 32 points, O.J. Mayo had 28 while dropping a mini-triple double with 5 boards and 5 dimes, too. Rudy Gay scored 21, but his biggest contributions were the 4 steals.
After a terrible 2nd quarter, the Grizzlies equalized it in the 3rd quarter with fantastic ball-denial defense. They duked it out in the 4th, tying the game up with a Rudy Gay drive right past LeBron James. In overtime O.J. Mayo hit a huge three pointer on a set play, and then Mike Conley sealed the win with a nice layup drive on another great, intuitive play-call by Lionel Hollins.
The Grizzlies got the win despite a huge night from LeBron, who scored 43 points and tallied 13 rebounds and 6 assists, and nice contributions from both Shaquille O'Neal and Mo Williams. The rest of the Cavaliers were quiet, though LeBron was
I'm going to get in an update on this later tonight, so be sure to get over the jump for the opinion section in a hot minute.
I grew up around Cleveland hating the Cavaliers and getting hated on constantly for being a Grizzlies fan, so I'm just soaking it all in right now. To see this young team that I backed hard all summer, despite some moves most pundits called questionable, fight for this win in front of a near capacity crowd just could not have felt better.
I'm just trying to put myself in the shoes of O.J. Mayo, who gets clutch-nasty all game, is willing to drop back and trust his teammates in the second half, and then comes on for a post-game interview responding, "Yes sir, Coach McHale." Wow, I had to slap myself to check if his attitude was for real.
Talk about a team that's actually working hard to get away from their dunk-silly, Allen Iverson signing, ball-hogging recent pass. Jamaal Tinsley, who's trying to play for redemption, looked happy to be on the bench, coaching his teammates into the right defensive scheme. This is a guy who the Pacers just paid millions and millions to get the hell out of the clubhouse.
Did I see Zach Randolph missing some wide open shooters? Yes. But I saw him make some smart exit passes out of the post as well, including an under-handed gem that got Hasheem Thabeet room for a nice flourish. Did Rudy Gay takes some selfish looking shots? Yes. But he took a hell of a lot less of them then LeBron.
This game might not have meant that much to the Cavaliers, and I'm not sure if it meant that much to the Grizzlies either. Why? Because it's becoming increasingly clear that the Grizzlies players already are trusting each other and playing hard for the win.
But to move back to myself, as well as every other Grizzlies fan I can hear the voice of around the world wide web, it meant a lot to us. Why? Because the Memphis Grizzlies are finally starting to prove to everyone else that they're coming together as a basketball team that demands respect.