First, I have to start by giving Zach Randolph his props. He played a fantastic game last night against the Clippers, on both sides of the ball. Randolph scored a game-high 30 points with 12 rebounds, while holding All-Star Blake Griffin to a season-low 8 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Randolph was a hound on defense!
The Grizzlies played a complete game from opening tip to the final buzzer. They got out to an early lead, and save for a minor let-down offensively at the end of the first quarter, there was no indication that Saturday's game against the Heat was weighing on their minds. It was a clean-slate scenario for the Grizzlies and there was plenty to like about their performance, starting, as I said, with Z-Bo.
Also huge in this one was the Grizzlies bench. Namely, Greivis Vasquez, Darrell Arthur and, to a lesser extent, Leon Powe. We'll get into the game more, after the jump...
Now that I got you passed the jump, let's quickly touch on the "bad news" from Monday. Might as well get it over with, right?
Well, it seems as if we're not going to have Rudy Gay for at least two more weeks. According to the results from his MRI on Monday, Gay's separated shoulder isn't healing as quickly as initially thought. Gay spoke to the press on Monday, saying, "It’s a process, but we’re not where we wanted to be right now." He then went on to say, "If I had my choice, I’d be out there right now." If we had our choice, you'd have been healthy and out there on the basketball court for the past month, but it's not up to us either!
So, Grizzlies fans, it's looking like we're going to have to finish out the month with Gay on the bench. That's not the best news we could have gotten on Monday, but if there is one way I can cheer you up it's this: we get to play the Clippers two more times this season!!! And if last night's game is any indication, we'll welcome the "challenge."
Here are a few things I like about Monday night's win over the Clippers...
- Zach Randolph. I've said enough. He made Blake look like... a 31-year-old Kenyon Martin? Whatever the NBA comparison, we can at least say he made him look pedestrian. There was discussion on the thread last night about which power forward in the NBA would you rather have right now, and naturally the consensus seemed to be Z-Bo. If Randolph plays up to his level, as we saw last night, I think the list shortens to about 3-4 names and Randolph is one of those in the conversation. We know how incredibly gifted he is offensively and off the glass. We're now starting to see more flashes of how good he could be on defense if he gets up to playing any.
- Greivis Vasquez looked good. I won't say great, since he did have some issues with turnovers and his natural shortcomings on the defensive side of the ball, but his ability to run the offense, find the open man, set up easy buckets for DA and hit jumpers... it's something worth getting excited about. Greivy and DA accounted for 23 points combined and plenty of hustle. They added some offensive punch off the bench in a game where, if you want to point out a negative, O.J. Mayo and Shane Battier combined to shoot 1-of-9 from the floor. It was helpful to see more of an offensive push off the bench.
- The hustle! The Clippers learned of what we do best -- clog the passing lanes. We forced 19 turnovers and stole 14 balls. The Clips managed just 12 assists with Mo Williams looking confused at times, thanks to our defense (2 assists to 5 turnovers).
- We "won" each quarter, coming out strong at the start of the 2nd and 3rd Qs. Again, there was no letup on either side of the ball. The intensity was great, and I really like the way Leon Powe was able to come in (I know, it was "garbage time") and work himself into the rotation. He scored a quick 8 points in less than 5 minutes of action. He's going to be a key role player off hte bench, giving us more depth and size. And, of course, a defensive presence.
- We continue to win at home! We're now 23-10 at homes and it's also worth noting that we were able to snap a mild 2-game losing strek. Now is not the time to slump. Not when we're in the thick of a playoff race. One in which we have just a 2-game lead over the Jazz and 2.5-game lead over the Suns. This was a must-win game in that we can't make a playoff push when we lose games to non-playoff contenders at home and, well, we won it.
- Clippers fans, I think we all here at Straight Outta will admit that you guys have a bright future -- glowing, even! And we all agreed that Eric Bledsoe can play. We knew about Blake, DeAndre Jordan, Randy Foye, Mo, K-Man, etc. But Bledsoe we haven't gotten to see all that much of. He can play.
The one conern.....
- Marc Gasol left Monday's game early due to a sprained ankle. The game was well out of reach, so it wasn't likely he would have returned anyway, but it's a bit concerning. Now is not the time to lose our big man in the middle. Post-game X-rays were negative, which is a good sign, but we need to keep our fingers crossed. If there's some good news, we don't play again until Thursday night, so he'll have a few days to rest his ankle. I'll follow the updates and post them on the site as they come in.
Next up: @ New York Knicks, Thursday