Remember this feeling, Grizz Nation? It's been a minute, and although the Knicks are indeed godawful, I didn't really expect the Grizzlies to break their losing streak in this game.
First of all, how about that opening lineup? Conley, Allen, James Johnson, Randolph and Davis. It had me nervous before tipoff, but tip of the hat to Dave Joerger (or the braintrust) for piecing that together, as it gave the Griz some better matchups and got the Knicks off their game early.
Memphis rode the shoulders of Zach Randolph once again, and it was a pleasant spectacle for fans that have seen ZBo struggle without Marc Gasol on the floor. ZBo abused Tyson Chandler all day long and finished with 25pts/15rbs - mostly from brawling down in the paint. It wasn't Randolph's best defensive effort of his career (I doubt anyone from this game could make that claim), but the big guy really stepped it up on offense today.
Tis the Season
Tis the Season
If the first game ball goes to Zach Randolph, then the second game ball has to go to the New York Knicks - for apparently not giving a single fuck for the first 3 quarters of this game. The Griz weren't exactly offensive dynamos today, but the Knicks' poor shooting and abysmal hustle-effort put them down so far that their last gasping run in the fourth quarter never got them closer than 5 points to the Grizzlies.
Mike Conley probably saw a slight decrease in minutes because of his recent thigh contusion. But there was a point in the 4th quarter when Dave Joerger neared the Nick Calathes/Jerryd Bayless Honorary Breaking Point that saw the Grizzlies boisterous 19 point lead dwindle down to single digits. Conley didn't have a banner night in shooting, but he dished out enough baskets to his teammates to give the Grizzlies a nice energy flow in their half-court sets.
Reading the Stat Leaves:
- 56-29 rebounding advantage for the Grizzlies - there's the largest element of the game, effort and hustle.
- 16 turnovers for Memphis compared to 7 for NY - this lead to a much closer finish than expected.
- 41.8% - 27.3% - 65.2%: the respective FG, 3P and FT percentages for NY - not ever going to be their recipe for success.
- 60-28: Points in the paint for Memphis/NY - the Grizzlies needed very little outside shooting to get it done today.
- James Johnson's stat line: 5pts, 8rbs, 3ast, 2stl - he could be a nice athletic presence the Grizzlies have needed.
- Koufos and Bayless with some effective play in their limited minutes - a combined 22 pts to give some life off a bench lacking much experience.
My overall impression: This was a game the Grizzlies and their fanbase sorely needed. It had some elements of Grit'n'Grind (mostly from Tony Allen, obviously), and the Grizzlies looked like they were communicating better than they have been in the month of December.
What's up next: The Grizzlies return to Memphis for a Monday night meeting with the Utah Jazz. Perhaps the Grizzlies have found a few makeshift methods of finding production without Marc Gasol, but no one can throw away a game like the New York Knicks. The Jazz have more wins in the month of December than do the Grizzlies so Memphis has little room for error if they want to shed their string of poor play at home.