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Report Card: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies

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It was like the movie Crank for NBA clutchness.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Nasty Nine became the “Tenacious Ten” with the addition of Toney Douglas, and what began as a slow boil erupted into a double-overtime thriller.

The perennially short-handed Grizzlies managed to pull out a win against Anthony Davis on the second night of a back-to-back. Memphis benefited from New Orleans’ inability to get AD the rock in several crucial moments, and rose above expectations behind a mountain of clutch play making.

The Grizzlies are the definition of “clutch” nowadays, having won their last five games by five or fewer points, and all ten of their “super clutch” games—i.e. games with a point differential of 3 or less in the final minute of regulation or OT.

I love close games when we win, and I’m enamored with this double-OT victory. Therefore, everyone gets their own song along with their report card:

A+

Troy Daniels: 43 min, 29 p, 7-11 3p, 3 a, 4 r, + 2

“I'm a baller, I'ma twenty inch crawler. Blades on Impala, diamond rottweiler. Octane hauler, not a leader not follower.”

Troy Daniels hardly cooled off after setting a career-high in points on his previous outing, pouring in 29 points and connecting on 7 three-pointers. Here’s a huge return on investment for both the front office and David Fizdale’s first year as a head coach. Many fans were quick to pan Daniels’ signing when he got off to a slow start, but he’s unleashed a torrent of threes in his last several games—and made them in line with his elite-shooting career averages.

One knock on Daniels’ game is that he can only shoot threes, but he’s shown his development in the last bunch of games. He’s not just a spot-up shooter. Troy has shot with lethal accuracy curling off screens and when making his own space with side-steps and step-backs around the arc. He’s also shown an ability to step into open mid-range space and make the defense pay, has attacked the rim, and even attempts to grab a rebound every now and then. Seriously though, he’s picked up his level of play on the 50/50 balls, and looks to have solidified an essential role on this team.

A+

Marc Gasol: 45 min, 28 p, 11 a, 11 r, 3 to, 2 s, 2b, +10

“Yes, yes I'm the best, f**k what you heard. Anything less is obviously absurd.”

Pro-tip: if you earn both a triple-double and the win, you get an A+. Gasol put the team on his back, swishing a hop-back Stephesque buzzer-beating three to carry the Grizzlies into their first overtime, and nailing a tough turnaround over Anthony Davis to give Memphis its winning two point margin.

Gasol’s game may be the best we’ve ever seen. He’s hitting threes with regularity and when we need them the most and he’s spry with his graceful, rumbling Kareem-like hook shots. I’m not thrilled he played 45 minutes, and worry that he may aggravate or injure anew with such an enormous workload.

B+

Andrew Harrison: 40 min, 12 p, 3 a, 4 r, 2b, 3 to, +15

“Who wrote a gorgeous stanza? It’s not you, it’s me like George Costanza. Folks appreciate the candor. Thin line between truth and slander.”

Harrison continues to prove the haters wrong, admirably holding down the fort in Conley’s absence. He hasn’t gone off Troy Daniels style, but he facilitates the offense and doesn’t turn the ball over a lot. The double-OT win against the Pelicans was no exception. Harrison brought his steady hand, played good defense, and hit a critical three during overtime to keep the win alive.

C+

JaMychal Green: 43 min, 5 p, 15 r, +16

He’s still passing up at 1-2 good looks from three a game, but he’s done a fantastic job enhancing the starting defense and gobbling up rebounds next to the underwhelming board-crasher that is Marc.

C

Toney Douglas: 8 min, 0 p, 0 a, -4

“Who am I?”

Toney Douglas is the first obligatory veteran PG signing this season. He didn’t do too much in this game, but has quickness, a decent shot, and made solid decisions on the court.

C-

Wade Baldwin: 20 min, 4 p, 4 a, -12

“Keep it comin' love. Don't stop it now, don't stop it no.”

Baldwin didn’t do much to help in this game, but he’s starting to take more pull-up jumpers. Hey you—yes you! You won’t be complaining about those shots once they start to fall. He needs to keep taking them. He’s not worth much to Memphis if he cannot develop that jumper, and he cannot develop that jumper if we tell him not to take it.

B

Tony Allen: 41 min, 19 p, 14 r, 1 b, 3 s, +9

“Tell ‘em we don’t die, tell ‘em we don’t die.”

Tony continues to help this team. He consumed 14 rebounds and nearly put up 20 points. He cooled off some of the Pelicans’ guards who’d gotten hot from behind the arc, and his defense enabled us to win the game.

C-

Jarell Martin: 20 min, 2 p, 9 r, -16

“They wanna know where I'll be in five. But what about today? What about tonight?”

Forgettable night for Jarell, though I do appreciate his nine rebounds. For what it’s worth, the one shot he made was pretty nuts: crowded, contested jab-stepping, buzzer-beating almost-three. Call me crazy, but he reminds me of Carmelo Anthony at times with these jab-stepping long balls. Look for a bounce-back performance tonight against the 76ers.

C+

Deyonta Davis: 6 min, 0p, 1 r, 1 b, -8

“I believe that somewhere in the darkest night, a candle glows.”

Let’s not give up on Deyonta. He’s the best rim protector we have, and he has the potential to be a huge piece for this team down the road. Normally I’d wish he played more to allay Marc’s minutes-load, but we wouldn’t have won this game without every minute of Marc’s performance. Ultimately, I want a healthy Marc for the playoffs. I’m hoping Gasol will get considerable rest when the Grizzlies take on a short-handed Philly squad, and that Deyonta gets a big opportunity to show us what he’s got.

C+

Troy Williams: 19 min, 11 p, 4 r, -7

“Good things might come to those who wait. not for those who wait too late.”

I like listening to the opposing team’s announcers when I watch games on league pass, and I’ve particularly enjoyed this ritual of late: early in the game, Troy Williams streaks past everyone on the fast break and finishes nicely at the rim, often while contested. Meanwhile, you can hear the broadcasters shuffling papers, trying to discern the nameless player who just burned everyone in transition, saying vague things like “...ah yes... good player that human.”

Troy has fallen behind other Troy in the rotation, but still brings lightning in a bottle each time he touches the court. Here’s to the future of Troys!

A-

Head Coach David Fizdale

“When pain come to get ya, it hit ya like flu. Better times will pick ya, do what you gotta do, to earn focus in the stormy weather, come out the tunnel to the light saying: pain will make it better.”

Fizdale keeps getting wins despite having one of the shortest and most banged-up rosters in the league—all on top of a transitional period for offense and defense. We can credit Fizdale for Troy Daniels ascent, and Harrison’s steady hand. A coach or two ago, both of those players wouldn’t be on the court, and the Grizzlies would be making moves and signing players that’d limit our roster maneuverability later in the season.

Coach Fiz and the rest of the Griz have also kept constant positive pressure on ZBo during his toughest of times. I think it’d be understandable for anyone to fall back into vices and take a while to return to action after what ZBo’s gone through and how important his mother was to him, but Fizdale’s emotional intelligence will pay indescribable dividends for this team in the win column, and more importantly in his players’ mental well being.