Well, it was great to see a good start to a game, wasn't it? Memphis, beyond a shadow of a doubt, should beat this Kings team when they are clicking and in sync. Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph especially brought their A games tonight, and even though the Kings went on a run behind the efforts of Travis Outlaw and gave the Grizzlies a scare the Grizzlies pulled out a good win in Sacramento 97-86.
The first quarter got off to a quick start for Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Greivis Vasquez and DeMarcus Cousins as they took turns alternating baskets early; the four players combined for 23 of the games first 30 points. Baskets were assisted on early and often for the Grizzlies; 7 of Memphis' first 9 baskets were off of assists. This is a sign of good offensive flow and understanding of where your teammates are on the court. The Kings struggled to score and with energy, leading to a growing Memphis lead.
The fast start off the bench came from Jerryd Bayless, who scored 7 points in a little over 2 minutes and helped Memphis get some early separation with a 25-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started with the true 2nd unit of JB/Quincy Pondexter/Mike Miller/Ed Davis/Kosta Koufos. This should not have been surprising, as the Grizzlies play at the Clippers Monday night and minutes will likely be monitored in these back-to-back situations. Kosta especially did some good things on the glass and defensively, grabbing 6 rebounds and rejecting 2 shots in his minutes.
Several missed shots and the turnover bug hurt the Grizzlies and forced them to not have their domination of the game shine through; they scored 6 points in 6 minutes, but thankfully the defense allowed 7 in the same amount of time.As the starters trickled back in, the buckets began to fall once again; a much needed Tayshaun jumper here, a Marc Gasol and-one there. The Grizzlies found a rhythm in a slower pace, the Kings shot a putrid 32% from the field Memphis had a 47-34 halftime lead.
As the second half started, the Grizzlies moved the ball well and got Mike Conley a couple open three point looks. Mike has been shooting the three better the past couple of games, and he has to hit those shots as long as Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince continue to be starters. Transition ball was also on display early with a Tony Allen steal leading to a Tayshaun Prince go-go gadget lay-up and an early Kings timeout. The starters extended the lead to 20 at one point, a welcome sign as the Grizzlies did not take their foot off the gas pedal.
The Kings went small at one point, hoping to get a quickness advantage to off-set the dominant Gasol/Z-Bo pairing. it worked. to an extent; Travis Outlaw scored 10 points in 4 minutes and the lead got down to 7 at one point as Sacramento went on a run. Turnovers once again haunted the Grizzlies, as they committed 13 of them through 3 quarters and the Grizzlies led by 9 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter began as the third ended, with the Kings on a run and the lead got down to 5. Defensive lapses that were not present in the first half showed a lot in this second half, and the Kings were on fire shooting in a small ball lineup, especially from range (6 threes in 18 minutes.) As strong of a game as Travis Outlaw had for the Kings (18 points), however, he simply could not defend Zach Randolph, and the Grizzlies began to exploit that mismatch. Between feeding the post and great two-man play from Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, the lead got back up to 10.
As the quarter went on, Kings coach Mike Malone decided to stay with the hot hands and leave his best player, DeMarcus Cousins, on the bench. That likely hurt the Kings, especially on the glass where in one particular sequence the Grizzlies got 6 chances at the basket off of offensive rebounds. The lack of size also continued to hurt as Z-Bo dominated Outlaw in the paint, using his low center of gravity and superior body positioning to dominate that match-up. 22 points on 12 shots and 10 rebounds is a great game for Zach, and it is key for the Grizzlies to keep getting consistency from Z-Bo going forward.
The most beautiful thing about this win is that all three of the Grizzlies key players had great games. Marc Gasol was a rebound and 2 assists away from a triple double, Mike Conley had 19 points and 9 assists alongside 2 turnovers and Zach had 22 points and 10 rebounds.The Grizzlies shot tremendously well for the game at 56% while the Kings shot 38%, that was the difference in the game.
The key to the Grizzlies' season will be the continued success of Marc, Mike and Zach and how the other pieces play their roles off of the "key three." Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince slashing/defending, Mike Miller and Quincy Pondexter hitting threes, Jerryd Bayless creating and Kosta Koufos cleaning the glass and protecting the rim. Do your job, play within yourself, win as a team. That is likely to be the Grizzlies' formula for success moving forward.
The road may have been just what the doctor ordered. A greater focus on defending the three off of the pick and roll will be necessary for the Grizzlies Monday night, as they take on the hated Clippers for the first time this season. Safe to say there will be many Grizzlies fans staying up late to watch Memphis 'Whoop That Clip."
More from Grizzly Bear Blues:
- Grizzly Bear Blue Grind Prophecies: Run As Vasquez You Can
- Grizzlies at Kings Game Poll: 'Tis a cruelty to load a falling man
- Memphis Grizzlies Zach Randolph still drawing paycheck from Trailblazers
- Sifting through the defensive woes of the Memphis Grizzlies
- Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings: Kissing Cousins