If a basketball game is played in FedExForum and no one is around to see it because they’re all watching Game 7 of the World Series, did it really happen?
I am unsure if this display between the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night can be called basketball, but it definitely did happen, and the Grizzlies finally found their offense in the closing minutes of a 89-83 win in overtime.
Here’s my three takeaways from a basketball game only a mother could love:
1) The Pelicans are a Horrific Disaster (and it almost didn’t matter)
Throughout New Orleans’ 0-4 start to the season, much has been made about Anthony Davis’ absolutely insane numbers. Entering Wednesday’s tilt in Memphis he was averaging 37 points and 13.3 rebounds per game on 48.5 percent shooting. That is totally nuts.
What’s even more nuts is that his team is 0-4! That doesn’t even seem possible... until taking a look at the Pelicans roster. Against the Grizzlies they trotted out a starting lineup of Davis, Tim Frazier, E’Twuan Moore, Solomon Hill, and Dante Cunningham.
It is easy to see why Davis has had to do absolutely everything for this team so far. However, if you look at the halftime box score from FedExForum you’ll see that New Orleans led the Grizzlies 48-41, and Davis had a plus/minus of -2.
The Pelicans actually took control of the game with their best player sitting on the bench for all but five minutes of a second quarter in which New Orleans scored 35 points. This happened in part because of Memphis’ horrific defense in the quarter, but also...
2) LANCE STEPHENSON’S REVENGE
legend player Lance Stephenson’s first half line: 6-8 FG, 13 points, 2 assists.
Memphis made it easy on Born Ready in the second quarter by playing lax defense, but he totally took advantage by carving up the Grizzlies effortlessly on several trips to the rim.
In the second half and overtime Memphis ratcheted up the defensive intensity, and the Pelicans’ perimeter threat was mostly negated as his driving lanes were shut off and he was unable to create easy looks for himself or others.
Stephenson wasn’t without help though, with teammates Langston Galloway and Buddy Hield each adding 18 points off the bench. These were crucial points for the Pelicans, who got almost nothing from Anthony Davis, who actually managed to get worse in the second half, finishing with a game-worst plus/minus of -24.
3) The Core Four Struggled
The Grizzlies were able to emerge victorious, but that had a lot more to do with the performances by JaMychal Green and James Ennis rather than the usual suspects. The core four of Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph finished a combined 15-58 shooting for 42 points.
Randolph turned it around for a stretch in the second half, but shot the ball 0-7 to start the contest and struggled to put the ball in the basket both with his jumper and from in close.
The story was the same for Gasol who finished with just eight points, but added 11 rebounds and six assists.
Conley wasn’t his usual self for most of the game, but turned it up late when it mattered most on his way to a 20-point outing.
Allen was... well he was doing whatever this was:
Fortunately for Memphis, Ennis and Green stepped up to the tune of 37 combined points and each came up huge in a third quarter where the Grizzlies outscored the Pelicans 25-11 and transformed what could’ve been an embarrassing loss into a much-needed victory.