What a night.
The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the L.A. Clippers 111-107 last night on the west coast. A game that very few people gave them a chance to win (including me) went the way of the bears of Beale Street, handing the Clippers their second loss of the season and getting Memphis back over .500 while guaranteeing at worst a 2-2 split on their road trip. If the Grizzlies can pick off Dallas on Friday night, a 3-1 stint away from FedExForum given the schedule they faced would be a massive victory.
It is just one win. But it is easily the Grizzlies best of the season. Let’s give out some grades.
MIKE CONLEY- 38 minutes: A+
I mean, you can’t ask for much more from Mike Conley. He scored 30 points and was 7-9 from beyond the arc. 9-12 overall shooting. Eight assists and five rebounds. He had four turnovers, which would normally prevent an A+ grade for Mike...but he also had three steals to almost completely cancel those lost possessions out.
Most importantly, Conley outplayed Chris Paul. Mike Conley was the best player on the floor last night. Let that sink in- Conley has now either played even with or beaten Paul in two head-to-head matchups so far this season.
Mike Conley, superstar, may be on the cusp of becoming a reality.
JAMES ENNIS- 31 minutes: C
James is out of role right now. He is probably not a starting shooting guard on a playoff team, and with Chandler Parsons still not being right (more on that in a moment) he is being asked to be more than he is. His offensive numbers (10 points on 2 for 8 shooting, 5 for 6 from the charity stripe) are OK, but he struggled defensively on this night- J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford combined for 44 points.
He wasn’t alone in those struggles, but it wasn’t the best night for Ennis.
CHANDLER PARSONS- 14 minutes: C-
Parsons is not right. Not even close. Here is to hoping a night off or two is on the horizon for him as he eases back in to shape. There is little to no lift on his jumper, no explosiveness in his drives, and he is being picked on defensively as teams force him to run through screens.
He will be fine. It takes time to come back and feel comfortable, much less fit in with a new team. But four points, two rebounds, and one assist in 14 minutes isn’t enough long-term for Memphis to be a force in the west.
JAMYCHAL GREEN- 22 minutes: C+
Green still fouls too much (although a couple of the fouls were likely because of expert “selling of contact” by Blake Griffin) but 10 rebounds in 22 minutes is quite good, especially against this Clippers front court. He just needs to find ways to defend without fouling so he can stay on the court.
MARC GASOL- 37 minutes: A
He hung in with Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. He scored 26 points and grabbed six rebounds while dishing out six assists. He hit a game-clinching three, and then did one of the best celebratory dances of all-time.
Marc, you are the best. Never change.
GRIZZLIES BENCH (Zach Randolph, Vince Carter, Andrew Harrison)- B+
Sure, Deyonta Davis, Jarell Martin, and Troy Williams all played in this game, but they played less than 10 minutes each, so we will focus on Carter (27 minutes), Harrison (26 minutes), and Randolph (26 minutes).
- Vince Carter- 12 points on 5-10 shooting, 2-4 from three
- Zach Randolph- 18 points on 7-13 shooting, seven rebounds
- Andrew Harrison- Five points, three rebounds, three assists
Harrison’s numbers do not jump out at you, but he continues to show improvement as he appears to have (for the time being) beaten out Wade Baldwin for key minutes in the back court for Memphis. Upon Tony Allen’s return, Harrison’s minutes will likely decline, but he is playing better than he was three weeks ago and is benefiting from the opportunity to play.
As for Carter and Randolph? What more can be said about two veterans, one sure-fire hall of famer (Carter) and one potential hall of famer (Randolph), who are driving a Grizzlies bench unit toward massive success? Z-Bo is a legit Sixth Man of the Year favorite at this stage, and Carter has finally realized the hopes of the Grizzlies when he came to Memphis. They are not the stars of the team as they once were, but they are flourishing in their current roles in Memphis.
HEAD COACH DAVID FIZDALE & STAFF: A
Fizdale’s impact continues to be felt in these new-look Grizzlies. Mike Conley is a scoring machine. Marc Gasol made four threes. Memphis was 15-26 from three overall- they made six more threes than the Clippers! This Grizzlies roster continues to buy in to what Fizdale and his staff are selling. Defensively there are still concerns (34 free throws for the Clippers show fouling too much), but Memphis went in to L.A. and beat the current best-team in the NBA, the Clippers, on their home floor on national television.
That is worthy of an A for any coaching staff.