My apologies to everyone as I'm on my about 15th go-around through the Arrested Development series; when that happens I'm basically just walking around, throwing out muddled quotes or asides from the show, and smiling to myself the entire time. This is not weird, I assure you.
But anyway, solid as rock is what came to me after watching the Grizzlies coolly withstand Kevin Durant's range and Russell Westbrook's rage by sticking to making the plays they're good at making, as well as taking advantage of what was in front of them. Which was, at times, not much.
More after the jump...
I've said it before but you can't help but note the Grizzlies' sureness in what they are doing right now. They built an early lead in this one by working inside (68 points overall in the lane to OKC's 46). Marc Gasol seems to like getting the team started offensively in games, the difference tonight was that he stayed active throughout; although, he pretty much had to when OKC went small and played Durant on him. Still, Gasol was aggressive most of the night, made some nice passes (like the little running lob he dropped over Durant and another defender to, I believe, Zach Randolph), and had his outside jumper working to boot.
Randolph scored 10 in the fourth quarter but was otherwise keyed-in on by the Thunder defense. This did lead to four assists though, as the Grizzlies did a nice job of cutting to the basket when their defender left to double Zach.
During the telecast, one of the Grizz announcers noted how before the season, coach Lionel Hollins wanted Mike Conley to be more aggressive looking for his shot and getting into the lane, and laying that factoid down last night of all nights had to feel pretty awesome in an announcer's world.
Conley had 20 points on 20 shots (some of that goes to his 0-for-5 three-point shooting, which most of the time the Thunder were just daring him to go for), but he could tell early on that Oklahoma City simply didn't have the help or presence inside worth fretting over. Nine assists to zero turnovers too, and Conley just always looks sure of his play, even when we might not be.
Then of course, we have Tony Allen, who harassed the shit out of Durant after picking up two early fouls and played his wing role on offense perfectly (even hitting a three, which is obviously house money). Allen wouldn't stop trying to find a way into the paint even if the Thunder had Kendrick Perkins or concrete barricades available, but the fact that they didn't made his decision all the easier as he attacked and attacked.
But the backbone of this win and of the other huge wins of late for the Grizzlies has been that opportunistic defense. Memphis never panicked when Durant started throwing in threes from everywhere, or after Russell Westbrook landed hard on his elbow and sought for revenge. No one on the Thunder really looked all that comfortable throughout, and as Tom Ziller noted this morning, the Grizz cleaned up on the glass as well.
This team searches out and feeds off of turnovers and long outlets so much, that it always feels like it was just a matter of time after the fact; like of course they were going to come up with a block-rebound-outlet-layup eventually, because they never stop actively looking for those kinds of plays. 12 turnovers for the Thunder isn't a whole lot, but the Grizz took advantage of them with 15 points off the takeaways. They also had nine blocks, five coming from Shane Battier and Darrell Arthur off the bench.
Again, this is another example of the Grizzlies facing a pretty damn good playoff team in the NBA and not so much forcing their opponent to play their style of basketball, but simply going about their own business while really just ignoring what the other team is trying to do. It's not that they aren't aware by any means; Memphis just has the look right now of a team that knows if they do what they're good at, more often than not they can be difficult to beat.
And sure, that's probably the idealistic motto for every team: "Do what you're good at and you can't be stopped." With the Grizzlies recent play, they're showing that idea works for them in real life, too.
Now, back to some chicken dances.
Arrested Development: Chicken (via TasteTheSad)