The emotion of the night was clear with Tony Allen’s return to the Grindhouse he helped build as the new-look Memphis Grizzlies pulled out a double-digit win over the New Orleans Pelicans 103-91 in the first game of the season for both teams.
The game started off great for the Grizzlies. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are still good at basketball. Mike Conley dropped in 10 points in the first quarter alone, in just 8 minutes. Marc Gasol was on the court throwing dimes down the floor for fast break points. All was right in the world of Memphis Grizzlies basketball. It only lasted for a few minutes though, as JaMychal Green went down with a possible ankle injury only 7 minutes into the game after apparently stepping on Dante Cunningham’s foot.
.@memgrizz injury update: JaMychal Green (left ankle) will not return to tonight's game.— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) October 19, 2017
We all wondered what the rotation for Coach David Fizdale would be, and we found out pretty quickly. Mario Chalmers, Dillon Brooks, and Tyreke Evans were the first players off the bench with Chandler Parsons quickly following. Parsons struggled from the start, even missing two free throws. Mario Chalmers and Dillon Brooks seemed to pick up right where they left off in the preseason with Brooks scoring 9 points in just under 7 minutes. The bench unit struggled early on in the first quarter, only able to pick up 8 points between them.
Then the time came which everyone knew was coming, the first time since 2010 Tony Allen entered a NBA game and it wasn’t for the Memphis Grizzlies. It went like you think it should have gone, with Tony getting a huge standing ovation.
Tony Allen enters the game pic.twitter.com/3Z2vIku1Cy— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) October 19, 2017
The bench unit started the second quarter and they were fast. They were running up and down the floor, with not a whole lot of defense, but a whole lot of fast breaks. Marc came in and immediately helped start some of the fast breaks. Parsons continued to struggle, and didn’t even put up a single shot while he was in the game. It’s pretty clear that Chandler’s confidence is still very, very low.
The Grizzlies had a really hard time with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, who had 12 and 20 at the half respectively. They were even able to put Marc Gasol in foul trouble, as he picked up three fouls in two quarters. Mike Conley continued to roll in the second quarter, putting in another 8 points. Dillon Brooks is really good at basketball, scoring 9 points in the first as the Grizzlies’ second leading scorer helping the Grizzlies towards a two-point lead at halftime.
The Grizzlies started the third quarter and looked like the grit and grind of old with some amazing defense. The Grizzlies only allowed 9 points from the Pelicans in just under 8 minutes of play. The offense continued to struggle, especially from behind the arc. The Grizzlies were shooting 7-19 from the three point line, with Mike Conley accounting for 4 of them. Slowly but surely the Grizzlies offense began to click, while their defense stayed at a high tempo. Marc Gasol had a quiet 11 points and 10 rebounds through the third quarter.
Once the bench unit of Dillon Brooks and Tyreke Evans cycled through the game, the offense really started to flow, especially with Evans driving to the basket. Evans scored a quick 6 points to help the Grizzlies come up with a 10-1 run in the third quarter. Tyreke Evans started to play like the player the Grizzlies need, getting to the basket anytime he wanted. Parsons got another run in the second half, drew a three shot foul, and then got cheered when he made a free throw.
As you would expect the fourth quarter to start, Chandler Parsons made a three from long distance, played smothering defense on Anthony Davis, and then set up Mike Conley for an open three. The Grizzlies continued to struggle with their free throw shooting, going for an abysmal 60 percent throughout the game. The offense continued to slow down with the bench unit on the floor. Marc fouled out late in the fourth quarter, continually struggling to guard Cousins.
The Pelicans bench gave them absolutely nothing all night, giving the Grizzlies a chance to increase the lead as the second units were on the floor. Unsurprisingly, the game came to a close with Cousins getting a technical foul and Tyreke getting to the basket for an easy layup.
Marc and Mike are still really good at basketball, but they’re going to need help from other players. Tyreke will hopefully round into form as the 6th man for the Grizzlies, and hopefully JaMychal Green does not have a serious injury. Dillon Brooks had an impressive first game with 19 points and 5 rebounds in his season debut.
Mike Conley led the way with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. The Grizzlies earned a good win over the Pelicans, overcoming injuries and rusty play, and getting help from unlikely sources. A lot of weird happened for the home opener, but they made it through with a rookie as the second leading scorer and without JaMychal.
1 down, 81 to go. The defending champs, the Golden State Warriors, come to Memphis Saturday night. One last time, though...
Love ya, TA.