I almost had a heart attack when I logged into my computer to find the New Jersey Nets up by 18 points over the Memphis Grizzlies. My roommates, still sore from the Cavaliers loss earlier in the day, mocked me until I looked up from the league pass and confidently told them all that we were back on top.
As ugly as the first half was, punctuated by Hasheem Thabeet literally throwing away an easy inbounds pass, the Memphis Grizzlies managed to turn this one around and dominate the Nets for about the last 26 minutes of the game.
So even though this one wasn't particularly watchable, since it was really a battle of two awful halves of basketball, it's still a win and is still somewhat encouraging in anticipation of Tuesday's rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rudy Gay scored comfortably, with nobody on the Nets even challenging him, on the way to a solid 29 points. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol also stuffed the stat sheet in their own ways; particularly notable was Marc's line of 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
But O.J. Mayo was unquestionably the second half star, and the player who clearly turned this game around. He dropped 24, with 10 coming during a 17 point run (!) that put the Grizzlies in control for the rest of the game. More impressively O.J. showed off a well-rounded game, with 7 dimes, 6 boards, and 4 steals.
The Grizzlies offense began to round back into shape as the ball seemed to be out of Conley's hands more often, which is a role Mike is starting to look more comfortable in. During the second half, Conley led some nice breaks and made quite a few really solid passes.
The bench was again abysmal. Darrell Arthur barely even saw the court. Sam Young had 3 TO's and just 4 points in 19 poor minutes. Marcus Williams shared the ball effectively, with 4 assists to 1 TO, but can't shoot at all; 1-5 games like this one are seemingly commonplace for him.
I think you've got to question Coach Lionel Hollins's rationale in replacing Jamaal Tinsley with Marcus Williams. If anything, and I can't believe I'm saying this, Mike Conley should play more than 30 minutes a game because both of them are complete non-threats offensively.
Finally I hate the fact that Darrell Arthur has seen his minutes drop in every game since his return. I understand his jumper isn't back yet, but he's the best hope this team has to develop a decent bench player while Ronnie Brewer is out. Even if Arthur isn't making shots, he does rebound and defend aggressively. There is value to a power forward who can bring his level of energy to the court, even if he's not bringing scoring.