The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 90-68, continuing their perfect preseason through five games.
Head coach Dave Joerger gave his regular starters, Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol, extended minutes through three quarters, treating the rotation like he would a regular season game.
"It's important for those guys to catch a rhythm, and that's what we were doing tonight," Joerger said. "They needed that."
Much has been made of Mike Conley's impending free agency next summer; however, he's not the only member of the Grizzlies' starting backcourt hoping to cash in on the skyrocketing salary cap in 2016.
Courtney Lee, also a 2016 free agent, has been in full-fledged attack mode this preseason. And Sunday's matinee (not technically, but relative to normal opening tip times, it was) against the T'wolves was no exception.
Lee finished with 18 points in 29 minutes, and probably most importantly, he took a game-high 12 shots, seizing nearly every spot-up and dribble pull-up shot opportunity. (Editor's note: Squeeeeeee! -CF)
"I'm just playing within the offense," Lee said. "It's not anything different, really. We try to find the best available shot and take it."
But this certainly feels different from a guy whose talent and ability are never questioned; rather, it's his unwillingness, at times, to shoot the ball that causes frustration.
Tony Allen, like only the great Tony Allen can, jokingly takes credit for the new shot-seeking version of Lee.
"I've been sticking Courtney Lee all camp, so these other guys guarding him, this is light work for him," said Allen, who turned in an impressive 13 points on six of nine shooting while holding Andrew Wiggins to just three of eight from the field. "I tried to keep a straight face while saying that. But seriously, Courtney has worked on his game all summer. It's no surprise what he's doing."
It may not be a surprise to the guys who have spent a full training camp and now five preseason games with Lee, but it is to those who have pleaded with Lee for a season and a half to take shots when they're presented to him.
Marc Gasol echoed TA's sentiment about knowing exactly what they will be getting from Lee this season.
"He's a shooter who's shooting," said Gasol, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. "We know what he's capable of."
Contract years are the ultimate motivator in professional sports, and right now (at the risk of totally overreacting to preseason basketball), it looks like the Grizzlies will be getting at least some version of the scoring and floor spacing wing that they've coveted for years.