After just resting Kyrie Irving Tuesday night against the Grizzlies, the Cavaliers chose to leave LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Irving in Cleveland for Wednesday’s game in Memphis. From an NBA fan’s perspective, I find this unfortunate because people paid not only to watch the Grizzlies, but also LeBron James’ Cavaliers. However, from a Grizzlies fan’s perspective, this just gave an injured Memphis team a better chance to win.
Last week’s Western Conference Player of the Week, Marc Gasol, returned after resting the previous game. Marc continued his solid play last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, hitting a three to start the game.
Both teams had a bit of a slow start, and after the first two quarters Cleveland was shooting under 30% from the field. At the half, Marc Gasol, Toney Douglas, and Troy Daniels each had 10 points to lead the Grizzlies. For the Cavs, the points were pretty evenly spread, but DeAndre Liggins led the way with 8 points at halftime.
At the start of the third quarter, the Cavaliers quickly cut the 11 point halftime deficit down to 4. Memphis then went on a run to stretch the lead back out to 9 thanks to a Marc Gasol three pointer. Tony Allen had a solid showing, particularly in the third quarter. On the night, he ended up with 16 points and 8 rebounds.
Off the bench, Vince Carter played his first game in the Forum since returning from injury, and he contributed a couple three pointers.
Entering the fourth quarter, Memphis jumped back out to a 74-53 lead. Cleveland made a few runs, but they were never able to overcome the deficit. For Cleveland, James Jones led the way with 15 points, and Mike Dunleavy had 11.
The Grizzlies split the season series 1-1 and started their four-game home stand off with a win, although it was a bit of a sloppy one.
Memphis Crushed The Boards
Although he struggled again from the field (1-5) tonight, JaMychal Green still had a solid performance with 7 rebounds, and almost the same was true for Zach Randolph (6 points and 7 rebounds). In fact, the whole Grizzlies’ team did a fantastic job of protecting the boards last night. As a team, they had 55 versus the Cavaliers’ 40. Memphis is actually ranked 11th in the league in rebounding rate, while Cleveland is ranked 10th. Protecting the boards was key to last night’s win, and the Grizzlies managed to do that, despite struggling in other areas, such as turnovers (17). Marc Gasol led the team in rebounding with 11.
Marc Gasol: Better Than Ever?
Marc Gasol has been playing at an All-Star level lately in many areas, and now he’s added a new facet to his game this season. Now, Marc is able to consistently hit shots from three and has become a legitimate threat from beyond the arc, which is a nightmare for teams to guard.
Last night, Marc was 3/3 from three, and he really appears so comfortable at any spot on the court now when shooting. He had 17 points last night against the Cavaliers. This season, he’s averaging almost 20 points per game and has a PER of 21.69. His points per game is a career high, and he seems to be playing just as well (if not possibly better, now with his three point shooting ability) than he was the year he made the All-Star team as a starter. Gasol has taken on the task of carrying his team with the absence of Mike Conley, and he’s definitely risen to the challenge.
"...defensively they're (the Cavs) still a really good team...Whoever plays in front of you is going to try to win" -Marc Gasol— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 15, 2016
Troy Daniels Continues To Impress
This season, Troy Daniels has shown he deserves NBA minutes. He’s averaging 9.1 PPG, which is his career high. He’s shooting 40.9% from three this season, and he had 4 threes last night to contribute to his total of 20 points on the night. He’s proven he can be a reliable scorer off the bench. In December, he’s averaging 14.9 PPG in 29.3 minutes, including a 29 point performance this month. With other players being out due to injury, it’s given players like Troy Daniels a chance to shine and develop, which has been beneficial for Memphis now and will be more so in the future when players like Mike Conley return to the court.
"We just gotta be ready to play each and every night," Troy Daniels. "I think we play to win each and every game" no matter who is playing.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 15, 2016
Now, Memphis will face Dave Joerger’s Sacramento Kings on Friday in the FedExForum and look to grab their second win of this week.
"He's our MVP. To me he's the best center in the NBA," -Coach Fizdale on Marc Gasol. Says he's proud of Marc's "growth as a leader"— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 15, 2016
On Toney Douglas, Fizdale says he's "sick to his stomach" on the upcoming roster decision facing him. Likes Douglas' "grit and attitude"— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 15, 2016