If I asked you to describe how the Memphis Grizzlies would need to beat to play to beat the San Antonio Spurs last night you probably would have told me that O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay would both have to have solid nights, that Marc Gasol would have to cancel out Tim Duncan, and that Mike Conley would need to keep Tony Parker at bay.
You probably wouldn't have expected the Grizzlies to win in a classic Spurs-style game, with neither team shooting over 45% and scoring around 90 points each. And you especially wouldn't have expected them to win if they failed at two of those three things.
Surprisingly Mike Conley was the only one to come through, holding Pretty Tony to just 4 points on 2-8 shooting. But O.J. and Rudy uncharacteristically both had an off-night. Mayo needed 18 shots to get 19 points, which is decent in this type of game, but not exceptional; Rudy only scored 8 points on 16 shots, which isn't decent in any type of game, in fact it's exceptionally bad.
The real boss tonight, though, was none of those guys, it was Zach Randolph, playing against his younger soul-cousin DeJuan Blair. Z-Bo got 23 points, 15 boards, and an all-important 3 steals. Those turnovers were probably the difference in this remarkably even game.
So, time to bite the bullet. When, a couple days ago, I meant to write:
The Grizzlies better hope they can blowout the Spurs too, because, as good as he's been, nobody is trusting Zach Randolph against Tim Duncan in the final minutes.
I never would have thought that a day later I would be reading this in the NBA.com post-game recap:
Zach Randolph has been coming up big all season for the Memphis Grizzlies on the offensive end, and on the boards. But it was his defensive hustle down the stretch the helped halt a furious comeback by the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night and allowed the Grizzlies to hang on for a 92-86 win at FedExForum, setting a franchise record in the process with their eighth straight win at home.
Yes, Zach Randolph was the hero, yes, it was against Tim Duncan -- the GOAT power-forward -- of the visiting Spurs. With Duncan tangled up and likely in a jump-ball that would strongly favor the Spurs, who were quickly surging back into the game, Z-Bo plunged in and straight robbed Timmy D.
When he got fouled and nailed both of the free ones, you could practically see the dust settling in the FedEx Forum.
The Grizzlies picked up yet another win against a top-tier team, Zach Randolph continues to proves that he's a winner, and Memphis finally has some breathing room between them and falling back to .500.