First off, it was a phenomenal feeling to finally be the team that limits the opponent to 20 pts in the first quarter. The Grizzlies rode the rhinoceros that is Zach Randolph, who finished the quarter with 13 pts and 6 rebounds. Yes, the man nearly had a double double after 12 minutes of play. You knew the Grizzlies would have to make this game more interesting than a 9 point 1st Q lead, and then, with about two minutes left in the period, Tony Allen gives us this gem that will go into the vault of other brilliant Griz/Clips GIFs:
Tony was subsequently given a Flagrant 2 and ejected from the game (sad trombone). And it wasn't just Tony and his Mighty Morphin Power Rangers power leg kick knocking out Chris Paul like a Putty, the physicality of the game got an early start, with Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick finishing the 1st Q with two fouls a piece. But back to TA for a second, it was really unfortunate he got the boot (ha!) so early in the game because he was looking pretty sharp on offense, and he's kind of good at defense and what not. I was frightened at what Redick or Paul might end up doing at this point.
Key Observation: Zach Randolph might mean some serious business this year. A Griz team led in the 1st and 4th quarters by an angry, focused ZBo is usually going to be successful.
The second quarter (and absence of Tony Allen) gave the Clippers a burst of energy that would balance out the anemic start they had to the game. The Clippers got offensive contributions from 9 different players in the period to chisel the Grizzlies lead down to 1 point before halftime. Memphis saw their offense come back down to earth, but they didn't bury their heads in the sand and put up 16 points. Even as LA ate into the lead, the Grizzlies were able to score frequently enough to keep the Clippers' momentum in check.
Key Observation: Facing and overcoming adversity. The Grizzlies were still playing with emotion, but they didn't allow the negative feelings to stifle their concentration. #TheReturnofGritnGrind
Mike Conley and Blake Griffin would each start the 3rd period with three fouls a piece, and that foul trouble would significantly impact how both teams operated in the second half. Mike balanced his defensive intensity while funneling some aggression into offense (5 pts 2 asts in the Q), while Griffin continued to fly around the whole court (7 pts 4 rbs 1 stl in the Q) and would end up committing his 4th foul. Although the Grizzlies still mustered scoring against the Clips, some of their play began to get sloppy and lazy, allowing LA to tie up the game with a few fast break points that the Grizzlies couldn't match in the quarter.
Key Observation: The Grizzlies' lazy defense allowed the Clips to get to the FT line nine times in the quarter, but you can get away with a lull in defense when you shoot over 60% from the field and drain a couple of timely 3's.
The Clippers and Doc Rivers threw the Dave-Joerger-Kitchen-Sink-of-Lineup-Possibilities at the Grizzlies in the final quarter in an attempt to find some ember to catch fire on offense. What the Clippers got in return was a patchwork mess that was hung out to dry with Redick and Matt Barnes both shooting 0-3 to finish the game. They found enough scoring to make it quasi-interesting at the very end, but with such cold shooting from their usual studs, the Clippers couldn't put it all together. That could also, perhaps, be attributed to this monster of a PF/C that goes by the name "Kosta Koufos." The Greek Stallion is looking more comfortable with his new teammates, and we might even be witnessing the guy blossom into a complete player that can do some of the things Marc Gasol can do. Between Kosta cleaning glass and Conley turning on the jets, the Grizzlies finished the game in signature fashion and came out with a signature win.
Key Observation: The combination of Koufos and Gasol is going to win us a few games. It won't always be an ideal tandem, but there are certain teams in the NBA that will lose their minds trying to figure out what to do against it.
- Memphis will be hard to stop when they play at this level.
- When Gasol and Randolph put up nearly 50 points between the two of them, they'll be hard to stop regardless of how anyone else plays.
- Jerryd Bayless saw significant time at the PG spot, but his duties were wisely relegated to basically bringing the ball up court and dishing off to Prince, Miller or Pondexter so he wasn't solely responsible for creating the offense.
- Joerger looks to have settled on rotation to some degree, and it's not really looking good for Ed Davis or Nick Calathes.
- Imagine what this game would have looked like with Tony Allen for all four quarters!
Up next for the Grizzlies: Wednesday night at Golden State to cap off the West Coast road trip.