If the Trail Blazers had any remaining hopes for a recovery after their 100-86 game 1 loss, they were quickly diminished with the pregame injury report that both Arron Afflalo and Chris Kaman would be OUT for game 2. Still, this game ended up being another classic tale of two halves…except, the two halves weren’t the first and second half. Instead, the game was broken up into the first quarter and everything that followed, all the way up until the final buzzer signaled a 97-82 Grizzlies victory.
A Slow Start
In the first quarter things appeared to be getting off on the right foot for Memphis, as on the opening play Mike Conley took a sneaky, ankle-breaking backdoor cut that left Damian Lillard in a familiar defensive position: out of place and in poor shape. Things turned for the worse when on the very next play Lillard put up a very Conley-esque floater that started a 10-2 Portland run. The quarter can be summarized by poor defense from Randolph along with abysmal frontcourt shooting. Write that last one down because it’s going to come up again…and again…and again. As the 15-point final margin of victory would suggest, Memphis didn’t take long to respond and come up with another huge win at home.
The Tides Turn
That shift can be pinned down to a single possession in the second quarter when Tony Allen pulled out a sleek between the legs, crossover move which set up an assist for a Beno jumper. Among the other amazing things he did tonight, this single play possibly held the greatest impact in terms of swinging the momentum for good. Speaking of other amazing Tony Allen things...
Fourth quarter and up by 14? Alright, lemme save this ball.
Let’s keep it simple and bullet point the amazing, glorious events that unfolded following that 2nd quarter sequence:
Second Quarter Is First in Order...of the Best Quarters
- Tony Allen had a block which turned into another steal on the very next play
- Beno caught fire (or remained on fire is probably more accurate, given game 1’s performance)
- Tony had a "Not in my house!" moment in response to a Trail Blazers alley oop attempt
- Portland missed
- Jeff Green hit a three
- Conley took a fancy Euro step right by Robin Lopez for an easy lay-in
- Portland missed
- Conley made a three and Lee had a steal that he converted into a layup which squashed Portland’s futile attempt to stop Memphis
All of that and so much more happened in the 2nd quarter, bringing Memphis to a 50-39 first half lead. The only thing that Memphis DIDN’T have in that quarter for the ages was frontcourt shooting (see, I told you it would come up again). Gasol ended the half 2-9 while Randolph couldn’t even get one (0-6). The curated list of 2nd quarter events paints the picture of what best describes the entire game: Team Defense and Backcourt Buckets.
Aside from the bigs, every single player on this Memphis team stepped up tonight; so while it’s sad that Marc finished 4-15 and Zach 5-16, there’s no need for tears! It’s almost impossible to pick the "best" player tonight because they all deserve immense amounts of praise. Here are the final stat lines for the fellas:
Mike Conley - 6/11 FG , 2/3 3P , 4/4 FT , 6 Assists , 18 Points
Courtney Lee - 8/11 FG , 2-3 3P , 18 Points
Tony Allen - 2/4 FG , 9 Rebounds , 3 Blocks
Vince Carter - 3/6 FG , 3/5 3P , 4 Rebounds , 9 Points
Beno Udrih - 4/9 FG , A million offensive ‘playmakes’ , 10 Points
Because It's the Playoffs
What are we even supposed to do with that?!? I mean, come on, Vince went 3 for 5 from beyond the arc?!! These past two games have thrown away every concern we might have had towards the end of the regular season. This Grizzlies team is doing exactly what’s needed to not just win, but to dominate. For those not in attendance, just go look through all your friends’ Twitter, Vine, and Instagram feeds to get a feel for the energy the Grindhouse contained tonight. The fact that the roof remains intact after Vince drained his last three with less than 30 seconds before the team racked up another 14+ point win is evidence enough that this season is special for Memphis. As unbelievable as it sounds, this is just the first time in franchise history that Memphis has gone up 2-0 in a playoff series. It’s incredibly tough to temper this overwhelming sense of elation and optimism even when it’s against the very injury-ridden Trail Blazers. Soak it up Memphis because everything was clicking by the end of game 2, and if that continues, the rest of the league best be prepared because there’s a storm coming.
Game 3 tips off in Portland at 9:30 PM Central on Saturday