It wasn't pretty, and at times it didn't even look like basketball, but at the end of the 48 minutes the Memphis Grizzlies were able to withstand a late run to top the Portland Trail Blazers 91-78 on the road at the Moda Center Tuesday night.
Here are my three takeaways from the Memphis win:
1) Basketball is Really Hard
I challenge anybody to find me a worse display of professional basketball than the first quarter of tonight's game between the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers, but if you do manage to find something worse, please don't show it to me. Burn the tape. Nobody needs to see that.
Memphis won the quarter 17-15. Here's the worst part: the quarter was even worse than that. The teams actually significantly picked up the offense near the end of the quarter. With about four and a half minutes remaining in the quarter the score was 6-5. At one point the Grizzlies were shooting 3-18 to the Blazers' 2-12. Not even a mother could love this.
The two teams managed to make basketball look as difficult as complex rocket science, and folks, Mike Conley is no Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Thankfully, the offense picked up from that point, although both teams still shot just a hair under 40 percent from the field for the contest.
2) Starter Struggles
Courtney Lee had an electric start to the contest, scoring Memphis' first five points, but outside of his performance the Grizzlies starting unit was a disaster. In the first half Conley, Marc Gasol, Jeff Green and Matt Barnes combined for just 11 points on an abysmal 4-23 shooting.
The second half wasn't any better. Barnes finished 0-5. Green and Gasol 3-12. Conley 3-13. With the exception of Courtney Lee, who shot a nice 6-9 from the field and 4-4 from the charity stripe for 16 points, the starters gave Memphis nothing.
Gasol, Green and Barnes don't have an excuse, but Conley was very clearly injured. He was initially listed as questionable for the game with lower back tightness before deciding to give it a go. He didn't look himself, and was largely ineffective. In the fourth quarter Conley exited the game to work out on the stationary bike, perhaps signaling that the injury was nagging him, but later returned to close out the win.
3) Zach Randolph Can (Still) Ball
While Memphis' starters couldn't buy a bucket, Zach Randolph carried the Grizzlies off the bench. It was a vintage Z-Bo performance all around. 26 points. 18 rebounds.
He had 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half alone.
Many have noted that Randolph has been a step slow this season, and at this point in his career he's just not physically able to do it night in and night out, but he's still fully capable of turning back the clock and putting in classic displays like this one every now and then. Zach Randolph can still ball.
GIVE IT TO ME STEPHEN A!