Some brief notes on what made this result so extraordinary...
- The Memphis Grizzlies had eight active players- Mario Chalmers, Tony Allen, P.J. Hairston, JaMychal Green, Ryan Hollins, Lance Stephenson, Vince Carter, and Jarell Martin. Cleveland was only missing Mo Williams. Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes, and Chris Andersen all sat out with various ailments.
- The aforementioned Tony Allen, returning from missing multiple games due to a knee injury, scored 26 points on 11-17 shooting, pacing the Grizzlies on both ends of the court. He was a defensive force of nature and showed that when Tony Allen is healthy and at his best, he is the very best of the Memphis Grizzlies.
- The Cleveland Cavaliers got solid performances overall from their Big Three- LeBron James (28 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists), Kyrie Irving (27 points, 5 assists) and Kevin Love (14 points (10-10 from the free throw line), 11 rebounds) all contributed and all played at least 33 minutes. It may not have been their best game ever, but they tried...and they failed.
- The Grizzlies only had three bench players tonight, and between the three of them (Stephenson/Carter/Martin) they outscored (34 to 26) the Cleveland bench. Lance and Vince scored a combined 32 points on 12-24 shooting, 3-5 from beyond the arc.
Most of all, this win showed the resolve and tenacity of this team. The faces change, but the core of what is Grit and Grind thrives through Tony Allen and the mentality that he and others instilled in this organization several years ago now. It is a cultural thing, now- especially when Allen is active and thriving (something that does not always happen, in fairness), they fight and they scratch and they claw more often than not. They are crazy, and they are unpredictable, and they are flawed, and they lost to the Suns the night before in a terrible loss...
And they are ours. A franchise, win or lose, to be proud of thanks to who they are and how they (more often than not) play the game.
In this case, it is in one hell of a win.