After what feels like forever, the Memphis Grizzlies returned back home to the FedEx Forum last night to face the Minnesota Timberwolves for the third time this season. Entering last night, the series was tied 1-1. The last time these two faced each other, the Grizzlies rested Marc Gasol and Mike Conley and the Timberwolves blew Memphis out of the water in Minnesota.
For the Grizzlies, Chandler Parson was listed as “inactive” last night, so James Ennis got the start in his place. Just like in the last two match ups, Karl Anthony Towns showed up big against Memphis with 17 points. In addition, Zach LaVine had 22 points.
Last night was a grind-it-out game, similar to Friday night. Memphis had a 4 point halftime lead, and both teams were struggling to score. However, the Grizzlies expanded their lead in the third quarter to double digits a little over halfway through the period and jumped out to a 14 point lead. Players like James Ennis, Andrew Harrison, and JaMychal Green really propelled the Grizzlies to victory while Marc Gasol and Mike Conley had quieter nights on the second night of a back-to-back.
In the fourth quarter, Memphis took a tighter grip on its lead and expanded it to 19 with less than 6 minutes left. The Grizzlies grabbed the win in the Grindhouse, 93-71. Memphis closed the game on a 45-23 run after having stagnant offense the first couple quarters.
Another notable stat from last night was JaMychal Green’s numbers: 19 points and 8 rebounds. Really, he was the star for the Grizzlies, especially with Conley and Gasol having quieter performances. Green shot almost 67% from the field and made 7-8 free throws.
We in the Mud... Again?
Tonight was another lower-scoring affair, though not as much as on Friday night against the Mavericks. In the first quarter, both teams shot under 32%, and on the night as a whole both shot under 40%. Though it would be nice to see Memphis better offensively, at least the Grizzlies’ defense seems to be in sync. Also, Memphis lacked a major contributor on offense in Chandler Parsons against the Timberwolves. Coach Fizdale’s Grizzlies haven’t been as defensively oriented as in years past, but now we’re starting to see that improve.
To be elite, however, the Grizzlies have got to get better offensively. The Grizzlies are currently ranked 27th in pace and 24th for offensive efficiency, but they’re tied for 12th for defensive efficiency. Memphis forced 18 Minnesota turnovers for 26 Grizzlies points. So the good news is, the Grizzlies are finding their groove defensively. The bad news is, just like in years before, Memphis is struggling offensively as a whole.
Tony Allen: "We hold our hats on the defensive end."— Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901) November 20, 2016
Zach Randolph: Sixth Man of the Year Candidate
Zach Randolph has been in peak form this season off the bench and has embraced his new role with the team. This year, he’s averaging 14.2 PPG, 8.1 rebounds, and has a PER of 20.39. Last night, he had an impressive 18 points to go along with 7 rebounds in 21 minutes. So not only is Z-Bo scoring consistently, he’s doing it very efficiently. He’s shooting just under 48% on the season.
Some were worried Randolph would complain about his new role and not perform well this season in his older age. Rather, Randolph has embraced his new role and is thriving off the bench. Now, we’re looking at Randolph as a legitimate sixth man of the year candidate, if he can keep this type of production up.
"ZBo is still playing at an incredible clip" -Fizdale says Randolph should be candidate for sixth man of the year— Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901) November 20, 2016
Andrew Harrison Shows up off the Bench
In last night’s game, Andrew Harrison had an impressive showing with 13 points and 7 assists in 24 minutes of play. We had seen Harrison perform well defensively this season, but his offensive skills have been lacking. Now, we’re seeing more confidence shown by Harrison on the offensive end, which is now equaling more consistent production. Last night was his third game to have double digit points in. With the Grizzlies’ shaky backup point guard situation, Harrison needs to rise to the challenge, and we’re starting to see him do that.
Next up, the Memphis Grizzlies head back on the road again Monday night to face the Charlotte Hornets. When asked about what Tony Allen knew about their next opponent, this was what he had to say:
On facing Charlotte, "I know they got Kemba Walker."— Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901) November 20, 2016
After solid performances from role players like James Ennis, JaMychal Green, and Andrew Harrison, we’re finally starting to see this new Grizzlies team gel. Chandler Parsons should be back Monday night, and the Grizzlies will start another small road trip.
"It's always nice to win a game when Mike, Marc and Vince struggle." -Coach Fizdale pic.twitter.com/Rkz2YCr8od— Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901) November 20, 2016
"I really thought James Ennis worked his tail off" -Fizdale— Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901) November 20, 2016