Now that's more like it! Facing the Bobcats at home in their first meeting since a frustrating loss in Charlotte, the Memphis Grizzlies more than took care of business while winning Saturday Night's matchup. This game had everything: Mike Conley knocking down his jumpshot, Jon Leuer dunks, naked mascots riding each other, Beno Udrih 3's, Fat Sajak.[i]
Five Grizzlies scored in double figures during this game, led by Mike Conley with 20 points. He still doesn't quite have his A Game, but the Grizzlies star point guard was 5-7 from beyond the arc tonight, and that is certainly a good sign.
Things started slowly for the Grizzlies, as they watched an early 8-5 lead quickly turn into a 15-8 deficit. But Memphis would begin to attack the paint and get to the line to cut in the lead and eventually overtake it. Zach Randolph had 10 of his 16 points in the first quarter, and looked like he was clearly over the flu. Not to be outdone, Al Jefferson chipped in 8 of his 17 in the first, but still the Bobcats were down 25-21 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Grizzlies got six quick points from Mike Miller before suffering a tremendous scare as he collapsed to the floor appearing to clutch his knee after a collision. Instead of playing scared, the Grizzlies responded with a 16-8 run to close the quarter, as Miller sat painfully on the bench. Despite looking rough, he would return to the game after halftime, where the Grizzlies led by eight, 52-44.
Suffocating defense and well executed offense would help push the Grizzlies' lead to double digits and spell the end of the night for Charlotte in the third quarter. Twice in the period, Memphis held Charlotte without a field goal for more than three minutes of game time. Mike Conley connected on two of his five 3-pointers, and Memphis took a 79-61 lead into the final frame.
Then, Kosta Koufos would deliver the knock out punch. After scoring a single point on 0-5 shooting in the first three periods, the big fella went off for 11 points in the quarter on 5-6 from the field, most being one handed dunks. Combine that with a couple of late Beno Udrih 3-pointers, and a few always entertaing Jon Leuer dunks, and the Grizzlies won this one going away, 111-89.
Game Notes from the Legend-wait for it-Diary
- Today was Grizz's birthday, and he had several other mascots in town to celebrate. At halftime, they all stripped "naked" during a dance routine, with the exception of the Wizards' mascot, who was wearing a pink thong. By far, this was the funniest in arena bit Grizz and the Claw Crew guys have done this year. Really great stuff, and Happy Birthday Grizz!
- After scoring 10 in the first quarter, Zach Randolph only scored 6 the rest of the game, and any other night that would probably be a let down, but for once, Memphis was so far ahead, his offense simply wasn't needed nor was it called upon. He finished with 16 points on only 7 shots.
- On the opposite end, Al Jefferson, who had been tearing through opposing defenses, cashed in for the Rudy Gay special, 17 points on 17 shots.
- James Johnson got only 5 minutes of garbage time action, and appears to still be moving very gingerly on that ankle. Definitely hope that heals soon, because now that Joerger remembers Leuer is a thing, I'd love to see those two split the minutes at the 3-4 spots, while Tayshaun splits the minutes between the middle and end of the bench.
- Speaking of Prince, he scored 4 points tonight, his first 4 since Monday's break out night of 21. Take that game away, and he has scored a total of 6 points the rest of the month. Your starting small forward, ladies and gentlemen!
- With the exception of Josh McRoberts, all the Bobcats starters had a +/- of -11 of worse. Backup center Cody Zeller, who grabbed 9 boards in 23 minutes, had a team low of -21.
- For the sixth time this year, Mike Miller did not attempt a 3-pointer. The Grizzlies are 5-1 on the year when he does not attempt a 3. I don't believe either one of those last two sentences, but they are true. Weird.
- Our city is the best. I won't elaborate but just know, our city is the greatest.
- Tony Allen did the James Johnson running put-back slam tonight, and it brought the house down. Can't wait til JJ is healthy and those two can cause havoc on the court at the same time again.
The win moves the Grizzlies to 36-26, and a half game out of both the seventh and eighth playoff spots. It's a big win because Dallas plays (an admittedly slumping) Indiana tomorrow while Golden State and Phoenix face each other, so the Grizzlies will gain ground on somebody tomorrow. The Bobcats are by no means a title contending team, but still, this was the Grizzlies showcasing just how good they can be when they begin to fire on almost all cylinders. Let's hope they continue to build on this as they continue their march toward the playoffs. 15-5 is the record I'm looking for. Still a lot of work to be done, but Memphis showed tonight that they might just be up to the task.
[i] It's that thing where a chubby kid is really good at spelling.