The Grizzlies entered Thursday night’s contest needing a win. They were at home following a two-game losing streak and facing a team that they’ll likely be battling for playoff position. To make things worse, they’d be without Mike Conley once again, as the Grizzlies point guard would miss the game with a toe issue.
Memphis passed the test with flying colors. Behind a defense that continues to suffocate opposing teams, a 25-point performance from Marc Gasol, and the most insane three-point shooting display in Memphis history by Troy Daniels, the Grizzlies destroyed the Thunder by 34 points for their most convincing win of the season.
Oh, also Russell Westbrook got ejected.
Anyway, the Grizzlies got a huge win against a Western Conference foe. Here are a few notes from the game.
Grizzlies D and Westbrook’s T’s
The Grizzlies defense was live and in full effect on Thursday night. And nowhere was that more apparent than Russell Westbrook’s stat line. Westbrook has put himself in the MVP conversation by averaging a triple-double this season, carrying the Thunder to the West’s fifth-best record entering Thursday’s contest.
The Grizzlies refused to let Westbrook work his magic, though, and the OKC star ended his night early after being ejected in the third quarter. In 23 minutes of playing time, the league’s leading scorer finished with 21 points, but no assists and a +/- of -13.
Westbrook wasn’t the only Thunder player who was frustrated, either. Oklahoma City was chippy all night, and managed to pick up multiple technical calls even before Westbrook was ejected.
Also, worth noting: Thursday’s game is the 176th consecutive contest in which the Grizzlies haven’t allowed a triple-double, a streak that goes all the way back to 2014 (h/t Grizzlies sideline reporter Rob Fischer).
TA got more PG minutes than Wade Baldwin
Wade Baldwin was recalled from Iowa, a sign that Mike Conley might not quite be ready to return to the court with the lingering toe issue. Conley didn’t play on Thursday night, but even without the Conductor, Baldwin still saw limited playing time. It wasn’t until the game was well out of reach that Baldwin even checked in.
Instead, Andrew Harrison got his usual start. When Harrison went to the bench, Fizdale was more creative with his ball handlers, using Tony Allen and Vince Carter to initiate the offense.
It seems that Baldwin was brought in just in case of an emergency. But with Westbrook out, and the tandem of Harrison and TA handling the point without any issues, Fizdale saw no reason to bring Baldwin in. It’ll be interesting to see what they do moving forward, but based solely on this game, it appears Baldwin is just there as a body and an emergency option while Conley is out.
- The Grizzlies defense held Westbrook to zero assists for the game, an impressive enough feat on its own. But Memphis also held the Thunder to just 9 assists for the game while forcing 18 turnovers.
- At one point Zach Randolph had 9 points in 4 minutes, mostly coming against Enes Kanter. At one point in the second quarter, the game devolved into a Z-Bo/Kanter showdown, with players taking turns exchanging buckets. Z-Bo was the Grizzlies’ third leading scorer with 21 points. He was actually second until Troy Daniels caught fire and completely bombed OKC out of the building at the end of the game.
- Parsons continues to be on a tight minutes limit. He was done after 15 minutes, shooting 1-3 from the field and scoring just two points. He appears to be moving a little better, and I saw a couple of decent defensive plays from him. He still hasn’t been the dynamic scorer Memphis wanted, but it’s improvement! (Baby steps, folks. We’ll get there eventually.)
One last thing: The Grizzlies hit a bunch of three point shots tonight and it was really really awesome. Troy Daniels almost did that thing on NBA Jam where you catch the net on fire I swear.
Memphis will be back in action on New Year’s Eve, when they head out west to try and get revenge on the Kings.