And tonight they didn't play that well either. They lost 3 of 4 quarters and looked beat at the end of the game. Marc Gasol had barely touched the ball in the offense and O.J. Mayo was off.
But the two of them couldn't have come up bigger in the final minutes. With the score tied, Mayo isolated into a double team. He shook one defender, and hopped one step away from Ronnie Price. Price got his hand up close enough to bother O.J., who'd been cold for most of the game and turned the ball over on his last isolation possession, but O.J. wasn't bothered. The ball smacked the backside of the rim.
Except he'd left 5 seconds and changes on the clock. The Jazz set their play up. With their shooters covered, Boozer handed the ball off to C.J. Miles who was rolling towards the basket. He'd beat both guards, but forgot about Marc Gasol, who just punished the basketball. As the clock ran out C.J. Miles's last shot bouced into the front row.
The Grizzlies improved to 18-17 on the season, 11-5 at home, and are now just one game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder to sneak into the 8th seed of the playoffs. Tonight's win was the kind of win Memphis is going to need to get more of if they're going to stay there in the standings, though. There was nothing pretty about it, but it got the fans out of the seats and the Grizzlies back in the right direction.
Rockness Monster: Rudy Gay led the charge that kept the Grizzlies in the lead and essentially kept them in the game as they got smoked in the next three quarters. He got a fairly average 22 points, but also had 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. The difference between Rudy Gay this season and last season? The rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Call him a ball-hog and lazy if you want, but Rudy's not that player any longer.
U-Turn: I understand Sam Young played especially large minutes since it was a blowout last game, but he only got 8 minutes of play tonight. Hasheem Thabeet only got out there for 5 minutes. Coach Hollins seems to be losing trust in his bench daily, though I can't say they don't deserve it.
Bitter Limon: I think I'd like to leave you all with a quote from my Twitter, sorry to some for my redundency:
Watching both games. Saw #11 dribbling ball down court, was like, "Is that you Jamal Crawford?" Nope. Still Mike Conley.
It's worth noting that both Zach Randolph and AK-47 had great games tonight also, albeit for opposing teams. The Russian was the Jazz's best player at times tonight, basically just turning off Rudy Gay. I don't know how the Jazz can get away with playing him so little, especially since his pre-injury stats were practically a rebirth to the better days. And Z-Bo's line? 29 points on 22 shots, great given his worse than average foul shooting, and 15 boards for a Grizzlies leading +8 in 44 huge minutes.