Young teams are supposed to play poorly on the road. It's just in their nature to get rattled by the crowds and the long airplane rides, or something.
Now whether that is actually the case or not, I'd say, is worth questioning. From what I remember, the Grizzlies have played awfully well on the road, and that's why this most recent trip to see the direction-less Detroit Pistons wasn't exactly frightening. Well, that and the Pistons just aren't that frightening.
First, not to sound like a broken record, but we gotta bring up road performance again. I don't want to take anything away from Memphis' great run recently, but they've had the benefit of playing a pretty home-heavy schedule. Memphis is 17-5 at home, but just 7-17 on the road. The stated reason for their poor November was that Allen Iverson was poisoning things, but really, it was having a road-heavy beginning of the season. Twelve of their first 19 games were road games, and predictably, the Grizzlies were 7-12 in those games. Since then, Memphis is 17-7, but of those 24 games, 15 were at home.
By contrast, Oklahoma City is one of the seven teams in the league with a winning road record (12-11), and they haven't had any major swings in their play all season. They take care of business on the road about as well as they do at home, and that's more sustainable going forward.
Well, Detroit City's climate isn't exactly Memphis-like at this time of year, but that didn't matter as much as Prada suggests, because the Grizzlies still pulled out their win in this one.
Not that the defense was the reason for their success; Memphis just kept hitting their shots against the hapless Pistons. In fact it was about as close to business as usual as it comes. Zach Randolph got his 24 points and 13 boards, impressive as usual. Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo both netted 16 points with different little contributions here and there on both ends.
The unquestionable star was Marc Gasol, however, as he led the Grizzlies with 25 points, 12 boards, 4 assists, and 2 steals. He hit free-throws in the clutch to seal the game and, despite only getting 5 minutes of help from Hasheem Thabeet, played tough the entire night.
If there's one thing to actually be concerned about, it's that Coach Hollins doesn't trust this bench and he shouldn't. Our favorite mistake scored 0 points, had 0 rebounds, 0 blocks, 1 turnover, and 2 fouls in 5 minutes. What a defensive stopper! Jamaal Tinsley played 13 ineffective minutes; Sam Young led the bench with 17 minutes and, not coincidentally, also led the team in negative plus-minus. He was -14 on the night, but at least Thabeet beat him in negative plus-minus per minute, since he was -5.
Even though it's tough to come away from a win on a negative, the Pistons are terrible and, well, so is our bench. This one shouldn't have been anywhere near close, but it was in jeopardy until the final minutes.
I suspect that, had Mike dug a bit deeper, he would have found that it's not defense that troubles the Grizzlies on the road; it's relying on rookies to make an impact away from home.