This is the word that has been repeated a lot lately on different social media platforms by Grizzlies fans.
“Memphis looks great one game and mediocre the next. Where’s the consistency?”
“If this team wants to contend for a title, they’ve got to find consistency on both ends of the court.”
“Why can’t the Grizzlies string together consistent performances?”
These types of questions are pretty much what Memphis fans have expressed lately. After seeing the Grizzlies defeat a team like the Golden State Warriors, but then struggle and lose against teams like the Washington Wizards Wednesday night, is puzzling to say the least. Is Chandler Parsons the problem? Is coaching the problem? Is effort the problem?
Whatever the heart of the issue is, the Grizzlies can’t make excuses with an almost entirely healthy roster. So coming into last night was the perfect opportunity to get back on track against the struggling Sacramento Kings, who just lost Rudy Gay to an Achilles injury. Also, the Grizzlies were to face for the second time this season their former head coach, Dave Joerger.
Former Grizz coach Dave Joerger and Marc Gasol having a chat before the game: pic.twitter.com/gZ2UJlvcHz— Grace Baker (@GraceBaker901) January 20, 2017
To start the game off, it was the same old tale. The Grizzlies found themselves immediately in a 9-0 hole, but they responded with a 9-0 run themselves. The first quarter overall was sloppy by both teams, and Memphis was down 23-15 at the end of the period. DeMarcus Cousins got off to a predictably fast start, but so did Marc Gasol for the Grizzlies.
A side note is that Chandler Parsons didn’t get the start tonight and did not play at all for resting purposes to prepare for tonight against the Houston Rockets. Nevertheless, James Ennis performed well in his place with 10 points and 6 rebounds.
In the second, Memphis’ offense began to roll as they had a 34 point quarter. Tony Allen and Vince Carter made big contributions for Memphis in the first half. Allen had 10 points, while Carter had an impressive 11. Going into the second half, Memphis had gained a 7 point lead. For the Kings, Cousins had 16 points (but 4 turnovers) at the half, and Ty Lawson had 11 off the bench. Troy Daniels left the game for Memphis during the second quarter due to a right knee injury.
In the third quarter, Memphis kept a firm lead, but the Kings kept rallying back to stay within reach until toward the end of the period. Then, Memphis finally took a firm hold of the game and exploded offensively. To top it all off, Zach Randolph hit a deep three to beat the buzzer to end the third. Going into the fourth, Memphis was up 83-64. At this point, Marc Gasol already had 26 points, and Zach Randolph had racked up 11 himself after a quiet first half.
In the fourth, it was pretty much all Memphis. The Kings never did recover from Memphis’ third quarter offensive tidal wave, and the Grizzlies had all the momentum in the fourth quarter. So Memphis closed this one out without much drama and went on to win, 107-91.
Memphis Dominated The Boards
One of the reasons Memphis took a firm grip on this game was their performance on the offensive and defensive boards. The Grizzlies had 58 rebounds to Sacramento’s 35. This allowed the Grizzlies to get more second chance points. Undoubtedly, Memphis’ effort has been in doubt in some games as of late.
Memphis went for every loose ball, and they gave it all they had. Effort was not a concern on this night.
When the Grizzlies struggled offensively at the beginning, rebounding kept them in the game. Tony Allen and Zach Randolph had double doubles, and there were 4 Memphis players with at least 8 rebounds. On the other side, DeMarcus Cousins was the only Kings player with double digit rebounds (10). The second highest number on the team was were by Ty Lawson and Anthony Tolliver, who each had only 4 rebounds.
The Seemingly Immortal Zach Randolph
“Mr. Double Double” showed up again last night, as Z-Bo racked up 20 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in 24 minutes of play, including 2 threes. Randolph has embraced his new role of the bench and has been extremely professional about it. One could argue Zach should be starting with how well he’s playing. But Randolph seems content with his role, and JaMychal Green has been a nice fit in the starting lineup. In this case, I say don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Rather, Zach Randolph is making a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year. While playing an average of 23.4 minutes per game, the power forward is averaging 13.6 PPG and 8.2 rebounds, and he has a PER of 18.75. To compare, Marc Gasol has a PER of 20.63.
In the month of January, Z-Bo has had two 20+ point games, and he’s averaging 14.4 PPG. He’s had only one performance this month where he’s scored only single digits. Also for January, Randolph is averaging 10 rebounds per game. Plus, he’s made 6 threes this month so far (he had 6 last season TOTAL). As Zach Randolph ages, his game adapts, and it’s so fun to watch unfold.
What Does This Win Mean for Memphis?
Here’s the thing...this win doesn’t mean much on its own. Not to discredit the effort and performance Memphis gave last night. It was nice to see the Grizzlies pick up the pace offensively (albeit still a little later than preferred) and crush a team they were supposed to beat at home.
However, if we’ve learned anything about this Memphis team this season is that they’re inconsistent. Last night’s numbers were impressive. Role players like Vince Carter stepped up. Tony Allen and Zach Randolph each had a fantastic night. The Grindfather racked up 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Z-Bo had an impressive double double himself.
Memphis’ stars showed up big, as Marc Gasol had 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. Mike Conley added 16 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds.
They held DeMarcus Cousins to 19 points versus his normal average of 28 PPG. Memphis had a rough first quarter but really picked it up after that and dominated the second half overall. However, the real proof will be how Memphis responds after the game. Will we see another full-effort performance tonight? Or will it be another head-scratching showing? Time will tell.
Now, Memphis faces a high-caliber opponent in the Houston Rockets tonight in the FedExForum.
"Tomorrow is going to be one of those games, high-powered offense..We just gotta come out + match the energy and be ready to play" -Randolph— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 21, 2017
"We gotta be the fastest to the ball...It really helped our pace tonight," -Coach Fizdale— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 21, 2017
"We sustained our effort tonight. It was a consistent 48 minute effort tonight...Our test now is if we can do it tomorrow," -Coach Fizdale— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 21, 2017