The Grizzlies finally broke their losing streak Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons, but the Grizzlies really needed to grab a win on their home court, considering they’d lost their last three games at home. The Rockets, on the other hand, have had a hot start to the season, but they just lost their center Clint Capela to a leg injury.
Marc Gasol was listed as “probable” entering tonight’s game due to a right arm contusion, but he did play in last night’s match. Although, he did have a quieter performance than he’s been having as of late. On the night, he had 16 points and 5 rebounds.
The Grizzlies started off slow, but toward the end of the first quarter their offense really started clicking, and they cut the deficit to 6 entering the second quarter. Then, during the second quarter Memphis jumped out to their first lead of the game as Mike Conley started heating up offensively. In the first half, he had 17 points and appears to be returning to top form after returning from his back injury. After the first two quarters, Memphis led the Rockets 54-49. James Harden was contained in the first half with 11 points and 4 turnovers.
In the third quarter, Ryan Anderson kept the Rockets from falling far behind Memphis. On the night, he had an impressive 31 points. Things were back-and-forth during the third quarter, as the Houston Rockets started heating up from three point range. Entering the fourth, Memphis held a slim 2 point lead. Mike Conley was held scoreless in the third.
During the fourth quarter, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph exploded for Memphis. In addition, players like James Ennis and Jarell Martin pitched in off the bench to propel the Grizzlies to victory. All night, it seemed Memphis’ bench outplayed the Rockets’ bench. For Houston, Ryan Anderson and James Harden’s combined 47 points wasn’t enough to grab the win for the road team.
Memphis briefly grabbed a double digit lead, but the Rockets managed to come roaring back and cut the deficit to 6 with four minutes remaining and fought until the buzzer sounded. Down the stretch, players like Mike Conley came up clutch with free throws and propelled the Grizzlies to victory, 115-109.
Mike Conley Is Finally Starting To Find His Groove
After a shaky start after returning from his back injury, Mike Conley appears to finally be getting comfortable on the court once again and returning to his previous level of play pre-injury. In last night’s game, he had an impressive 24 points to go along with 5 assists. On the other side, James Harden had 16 points and 17 assists but 9 turnovers.
Conley now looks unafraid and aggressive on both ends of the floor. It’s a relief to see Conley healthy again and not timid on the court after his injury. He’s fitting well right alongside his teammates in the starting lineup, and last night he was 3-6 from beyond the arc. Plus, he played under 30 minutes, and the Grizzlies still beat a top Western Conference team. Conley’s temporary absence gave Memphis’ young role players some experience and allowed them to gel together, so when Conley came back he finally had some help on the offensive end from players like Ennis, Harrison, and Daniels.
Three Point Shootout
It isn’t often that Memphis pulls out a win in a three point shootout, but they did in this one. Although they only made 13 three pointers to Houston’s 20 (they had 52 attempts!), Memphis shot 52% from beyond the arc. Vince Carter was 4/6 from three (he had 14 points total), while James Ennis contributed 3 threes himself. The Grizzlies were getting three point contributions from multiple players on the roster, and Memphis’ defense pushed them over the edge in this one.
For the Rockets, Ryan Anderson was 8/14 from three, and Harden was 2/6. In the end, Houston’s hot shooting from three wasn’t enough for them to grab the victory, as the Grizzlies excelled in other crucial areas, such as bench play and defense, that resulted in a Memphis win.
Memphis Bench Outshines Houston’s
Where Houston really struggled was with their second unit. The Grizzlies had 55 bench points, while the Rockets only had 27. Players like Vince Carter propelled the Grizz to victory last night. James Ennis had 13 points, while Zach Randolph added 16 himself and exploded in the fourth quarter. Jarell Martin only had 2 points, but his 2 points were an extremely impressive dunk. Andrew Harrison continues to be a bit of a mixed bag, but he added 5 points and 6 assists.
Again, it seems that Mike Conley’s absence helped players like Troy Daniels and James Ennis develop their game, and these players have been able to gel as a group and get more minutes, which is extremely beneficial for Memphis.
On Memphis’ starting unit, Chandler Parsons continues to be nearly invisible. He had 4 points in less than 15 minutes of play. It’ll be interesting to see if Parsons will significantly contribute in the near future, and if he’s actually fully healed from injury.
The Grizzlies pulled out an impressive win over a division rival last night. Memphis heads into the holidays with a win, and they’ll face the Orlando Magic on Monday to start a two-game road trip. Merry Grizzmas, everyone!
"We just try to make it as hard as we can on these great players (Harden)" -Coach Fizdale on Memphis' defense— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 24, 2016
"I'm just glad we got the win and made them break a sweat," -Fizdale— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 24, 2016
"I wasn't worried about it at all," -Fizdale on the Conley and Beverly scramble at the end of the game.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 24, 2016
"Our first priority was our defense," -Fizdale.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 24, 2016
"I really feel like we can play with any team in this league," -Fizdale.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 24, 2016
"We've got a fearless group...Our goal is the same as those other teams, to win a title," -Fizdale— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 24, 2016