Isaiah Thomas just could not be stopped in this game.
The 5-foot-9 offensive dynamo showed why he is one of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA in this game, as he lit up Memphis for 44 points en route to a big road win for his team.
Aside from the Thomas show, this was a very entertaining, eventful game that just didn’t go the right way for the Grizz in the end.
We saw a great battle of centers and point guards, as well as some big games for role players on each team. There was also an ejection for one Zach Randolph, who was called for a flagrant 2 foul on Kelly Olynyk.
There’s a lot to unpack in this game, so let’s get into it.
Gasol vs. Horford Was a Very Good Battle
Guard play will likely dominate the discussion of this game. But the big men certainly brought it themselves.
Marc Gasol and Al Horford are two of the smoothest, most fundamentally sound big men in the NBA and their great skill sets were on display in this back-and-forth contest.
Gasol was terrific, as he has been for most of this season. The Spaniard tallied 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists in this game. He didn’t have his most efficient game from the field, shooting only 8-for-22, but he contributed positively on the offensive end.
On the defensive end, though, Big Al gave him some serious issues.
Horford had himself a big double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds, acting as a great sidekick to Thomas offensively. He shot 8-for-19 from the floor, which is a figure weighed down by the fact that he was only 1-for-8 from downtown.
Imagine if Horford was on from deep; this game would not have been as close as it was.
It’s hard to say who won this battle, as both players had their moments in the game and posted very good numbers. But it’s easy to say that neither guy did much to hurt their team, and made this a very high-class battle of All-Star big men.
The Point Guards
And now to talk about the man of the hour...and a guy named Conley.
Thomas’s scoring ability had him cooking any defender placed on him in this game. He was 10-of-16 from the field, 7-of-10 from three-point range, and a perfect 17-for-17 from the free-throw line.
That is efficiency as its finest.
The defensive intensity for Memphis was not at a high, which had coach David Fizdale calling out his team’s leadership after the game.
A team simply cannot allow an opposing team’s best player to score 44 points on only 16 shot attempts. That is unacceptable, and Boston clearly won the point guard battle.
Mike Conley had himself an up-and-down game for Memphis.
A victim of Avery Bradley’s good defense, Conley struggled with his shooting, connecting on only 6-of-16 shot attempts on the night. But “The Conductor” still made some plays in this game and had a very respectable line of 19 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals.
Normally, that would be a very good night. But it is overshadowed by Thomas’s explosion.
For the Grizzlies, other pieces had some mixed results in this game.
Let’s start with the good.
Troy Daniels was lighting it up for the Grizz with his shooting. Daniels scored 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4-for-7 from three, in a heavy workload of 35 minutes. Daniels provided great bench scoring punch and hit big shots to help Memphis keep pace with the Celtics.
Jarrell Martin gave a very good 17 minute contribution and even earned playing time down the stretch of the game. He rebounded well and tallied 3 points with 8 boards in his minutes. He looked better than JaMychal Green, who also rebounded well with 12 boards in 31 minutes and had 7 points.
The other power forward, though, had a rough night,
Zach Randolph was struggling to get going offensively, shooting only 4-for-14 from the field.
And he also got himself ejected.
Randolph elbowed Kelly Olynyk in the throat and was given a flagrant 2 foul...and an early trip to the locker room.
The Grizz had some guys step up, but in the end, they didn’t make enough shots to win, as they shot only 40% from the floor.
For Boston, Bradley and Jae Crowder both played very well on both ends of the floor. Bradley helped contain Conley while also scoring 16 points on only 8 shots. Crowder also took 8 shots and had 13 points, while also playing good D.
The Grizzlies didn’t play terribly in this game.
But making shots is the name of the game and they just didn’t do enough of that. The team also looked uninspired at times, giving coach Fizdale a task in fixing the fire that his team plays with.
In the big picture, this was not an awful loss. Boston is the 3-seed in the Eastern Conference right now and a solid team. But this game was within reach for the Grizz, despite Thomas’s play, and they let it get away.
The team will look to rebound on Wednesday night in Detroit, featuring another intriguing battle of centers with Gasol facing off with Andre Drummond.
Let’s hope no one from Detroit goes off for 40+.