As Flo Rida succinctly put it, sometimes I get a good feeling about these Grizzlies and this is one of those times. This is one of the few times when I watched the game and don't have anything critical to say about the team, or if I did, it would feel like nitpicking. I know I probably rely on statistics and boxscores too much, but look at this: Rudy Gay (+21), Marc Gasol (+40), Tony Allen (+36), Mike Conley (+21), Dante Cunningham (+17), OJ Mayo (+20). Sure, Marreese Speights (-11) is a bit of a black-eye, but the rest is just ridiculous.
In the game preview, I mentioned how the Hawks were really hurting without the presence of center Al Horford, and I think tonight that was on full display. Without Horford to protect the paint, the Grizzlies essentially ran lay-up drills on the Hawks, going 21-31 at the rim, especially Tony (5-6), Rudy (4-6), and Mike (5-7). Many of those open lay-ups and dunks were the direct result of the Grizzlies' frenzied defense. The Hawks had 14 turnovers for the game, 13 of which were stolen by the Grizzlies. Even Tony threw one down on Josh Smith! This is Memphis basketball at its best: forcing turnovers, getting out in transition, and finishing. In the halfcourt, guys were either driving to the hoop or were cutting and being fed; 9 of Memphis' 22 assists lead to a lay-up or dunk.
I mentioned in the comments section of the preview that coming into the game, the Hawks had the 3rd best defense in the league (built on a largely weak schedule, but impressive nevertheless), whereas the Grizzlies had the 23rd best offense. This kind of performance goes a long way towards relieving my fears. Our defense and rebounding are almost as good as ever, but if our offense can operate at this level, this team should make a strong push for the rest of the season. Both the Trailblazers and the Jazz lost last night, meaning that Memphis is only one game behind the 8th-seed. We have a hellish schedule coming up, but tonight's win will hopefully generate some positive momentum for us to ride into some of these games.
Player of the Game:
I'll let muffin1man handle this one for me:
I just wanted to say Tony Allen should get the game ball tonight. He didn’t force shots and found his offense within the offense. That 3 in the corner to end the half was AMAZING! So proud of Tony and my Grizz tonight! GO GRIZZ!!!