Well, at least if they’re gonna play to convey, they are going to compete.
On a Monday night in Memphis, LeBron James and his L.A. Lakers almost completed a comeback against the lowly Memphis Grizzlies. But in this game, Mike Conley and his crew of misfits found a way to knock off the King and weaken the already softening postseason chances of the Lakers.
Here are some takeaways from a...dare I say...”fun” 110-105 win in Memphis for the home team?
The Grizzlies bigs bullied on the block.
Hey, I got one right!
From my Game Preview for this very game...
...Kyle Kuzma is having a very good season, but beyond him the bigs that L.A. will trot out against Memphis will struggle with the physicality and energy that Noah, and especially Valanciunas, bring to the table. If Memphis is to win this game, their post players will have to lead the way.
NAILED IT! (Ignore the game prediction, please).
Jonas Valanciunas and Joakim Noah had their way with the L.A. Lakers front court, combining for 34 points, 25 rebounds, and two double doubles on a combined efficient 13-23 shooting. Noah also posted 4 assists and both men looked quite fleet of foot at times as they played with terrific energy (especially Noah off the bench, taking a late charge against James himself that help sealed the victory). These were remarkable performances from two guys that weren’t wanted by their former squads, be it because they were looking for an upgrade (Toronto with Jonas) or just an open roster spot (New York with Joakim).
Maybe it wasn’t going to work, Noah with the Knicks. Maybe Marc Gasol is better than Valanciunas for the Raptors title hopes. But Memphis is very glad these two new bash brothers are calling the paint of the Grizzlies home...even if it’s just for a couple months.
The Conductor delivered
30 points on 17 shots, 5 assists, 3-6 from beyond the arc, and a steadying presence for a team that desperately needs it. If the Grizzlies truly believe they can convey this pick to Boston this year, they will need Mike Conley to be this version of himself every single night. The main difference in this game was he had help from a variety of places - Valanciunas, Noah, Avery Bradley all scored in double figures, and no Grizzlies player that played scored less than 5 points. But make no mistake, as long as he is here, Conley is the captain. And they will go as he steers the ship.
- The Lakers are in a really bad place. Memphis is playing better, but still...L.A. has the (arguably) best player on the planet in LeBron James and much more overall talent. Most importantly, they NEEDED this game more than the Grizzlies did, both mentally and in terms of playoff positioning. Between this and losing to New Orleans...how does LABron respond? Not well is my guess
- Chandler Parsons is too...but he is trying. 2-10 from the field while launching the flattest threes in the NBA does not inspire tremendous confidence moving forward in his game. But he is playing hard (his effort on defense that led to a Joakim dunk is worth looking up), and trying to contribute, and opposing players continue to bite on his pump fakes for some reason. So here’s to hoping he finds some lift in those legs...yes, this is unlikely, sadly.
- Shout out to the fans. Watching from home, this felt like the old days of the Grindhouse at times. The energy for this team was on point for the most part - booing Chandler Parsons is bad, but a pass is given for the positive vibes given most everywhere else. The issues for the fans should be with the front office of Memphis, not the players. Continue to support these guys - they’re not tanking. They have something to prove. Stick with them.
And stick with GBB as the season grinds along! The Grizzlies are next in action Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls.