Zach Randolph made his triumphant return to the starting lineup in the wake of all sorts of Jeff Green controversy on Tuesday. After not seeing the floor for any of the second half against Houston, Jeff was back in the rotation and subbed in for Z-Bo late in Q1. Matt Barnes returned from injury, while Mike Conley is still nursing his Achilles.
The Grizzlies' bench was the story of the first half, withstanding a three-point flurry from Detroit (6 of 17) and keeping it close after a dim first quarter that ended 24-21. Matt Barnes provided a spark on defense, ran the floor, and poured in three threes; Jeff Green responded surprisingly well to his second recent benching, adding 12 to a bench total 23 in the first half. A pair of steals and seven straight points to close out the quarter made it 48-43 for the good guys at halftime.
After a tepid, 3-point first half, Gasol scored 11 in the third, going toe to toe with the ever-formidable Andre Drummond. His aggressiveness allowed the Grizzlies to withstand a Pistons run that cut the lead to 1, and a trio of triples by Rio and Barnes helped the Grizzlies to a 79-71 lead going into the final period.
Easy from here on out, right? Nah. The Pistons caught absolute fire to start the fourth. What was a 13-point Grizzlies lead became a 6-point Detroit advantage with 5 minutes to go in the game, on the back of – yes, you're reading this right – a 23-2 run. Matt Barnes' fifth and sixth consecutive threes stemmed the tide, but Detroit continued to put the pressure on and held a 3-point lead with half a minute remaining.
Looking to one-up Barnes' ridiculous heroics in Detroit, Mario Chalmers donned his cape, drew a three point foul to tie the game, then hit an awkward, flailing, game-winning jumper all while being fouled by Aron Baynes. And that was all she wrote.
The Grizzlies got it all from a few guys tonight: Chalmers (25, plus the game-winner), Barnes (18, 6-6 from downtown), Gasol (19, but -11), and Green (16, mostly in the first half). Hard to pick a game ball tonight.
Ersan Ilyasova had 19 points and 9 rebounds and was engaging in multilingual trash talk with Zach Randolph all night.