The last time the Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs in Texas, it was my senior year of college, and I was flailing around before final exams. I was just hoping not to fail.
I didn't fail--by some divine grace or ZBo-fueled Grizzly juju, I passed. They handed me my diploma. I graduated.
The Grizzlies graduated on Wednesday night in San Antonio.
In Memphis' 117-116 triple-overtime graduation-party of a win over the defending champs, the team adamantly announced their place at the NBA's grown-ups table. The Grizzlies have entered the "real world" now--no longer a middling, we-had-a-good-run Western Conference squad, this team is a real NBA Finals contender.
Toss your caps in the air, Memphis: you just snatched about three separate victories from the Spurs' three-headed jaws of defeat.
Grizzlies 117 - Spurs 116 (3OT)
Mike Conley: 47 MIN | 14 PTS | 5-19 FG | 10 AST | 8 REB | +10
While Conley's scoring numbers weren't quite Philadelphian, he played, as Brevin Knight continually noted, like an All-Star. He hit a massive three towards the end of--regulation? That happened in regulation? Goodness, what a game.
Give him his diploma, plus an All-Star certificate.
Courtney Lee: 53 MIN | 14 PTS | 6-13 FG | 2-2 3FG | 4 AST | 2 REB | -1
The numbers don't quite bear this out, but your boy C. Lee played a monster game in San Antone. Lee hit a few of his patented pull-up j's in the first half, went up like a free safety to take the ball from Danny Green at the end of the _______ (I blacked out somewhere in here), and then crushed a three that should've won the game in the second overtime.
That's an A in my book, Courtney.
Quincy Pondexter: 23 MIN | 4 PTS | 2-6 FG | 2 AST | 4 REB | 2 STL | --
Quincy scored only four points and hit none of this three point attempts, but did take advantage of his rare start to at least get out there and play with energy. He played nice on-ball defense for most of his 23 minutes.
Zach Randolph: 48 MIN | 21 PTS | 9-19 FG | 2 STL | 21 REB | +4
Like they say, hindsight is 21/21. Or something like that. Memphis will likely look back at this game when and if the teams match up in the playoffs, hoping to conjure some more of that ZBo mojo. 21 points and 21 boards against the best power forward of all time and the team that consistently shuts you down?
ZBo graduates magna cum laude.
Marc Gasol: 46 MIN | 26 PTS | 10-16 FG | 1-1 3FG (!!!) | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 9 REB | -3
Guys, Marc Gasol. I mean, did that really happen? A step-through three-point bank to tie the game at the buzzer? Plus 26 points and nine boards, all while going toe-to-toe with one of the best players ever?
Here's your grade, Marc: If Tim Duncan can be the best player on a title team, so can Marc Gasol.
Vince Carter: 41 MIN | 18 PTS | 6-13 FG | 5-9 3FG | 3 AST | 3 STL | 3 REB | +10
*You can't even hear Vince's name called out at graduation because we're all too busy cheering and blowing air horns and collectively losing our minds. We are all Vinsane.*
Beno Udrih: 16 MIN | 0 PTS | 0-4 FG | 6 AST | -9
Did not score and tossed an ugly turnover in the third. He did dish out numerous gorgeous assists, including a couple drop-offs to Kosta Koufos that were so good they got him exempt from his final exam.
C+ overall, but those delicious dishes to Kosta got him exempt from taking the final. Enjoy the holidays, Beno!
Kosta Koufos: 17 MIN | 16 PTS | 8-10 FG | 2 BLK | 7 REB | +4
It seems hyperbolic to say Kosta Koufos is the reason the Grizzlies won this game. But still--what would Memphis have done without the big man's 16 points in 17 minutes? 16 points in 17 minutes! Kosta's running hook is in the running for "best go-to move of the night", with the obvious exception of the Marc Gasol step-through three, which is clearly a move to bank on in the future.
Jon Leuer: 14 MIN | 2 PTS | 1-4 FG | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 REB | --
Hey, he made that one reverse!
You passed, son.
Nick Calathes: 9 MIN | 2 PTS | 1-3 FG | -10
Just c'mon down and get your diploma, Nick.