And just like that, the Memphis Grizzlies have won three in a row playing like a team having so much fun going out on the court each and every game.
The Grizzlies took down the Orlando Magic at home Sunday night in impressive fashion, giving Coach J.B. Bickerstaff a nice birthday present as well. Memphis fought back from a 91-84 deficit with five minutes left to take this contest 105-97. As Grizzlies TV Play by Play man Pete Pranica said in the broadcast, these two teams were destined to come down to the wire as they are the two teams that have played in the most “clutch” games in the NBA. This was another one not to disappoint, as the score came within five points under five minutes to play.
It was a total team effort for the Grizzlies in this one as the game was back and forth the whole way through. The bench came out and gave the team life when the Magic kept cutting back into the lead and taking over multiple times in the second half. It was almost out of hand before someone made a play to get the crowd back into it. Then, right on cue, Mike Conley stepped up as the captain and took over scoring 14 points in the 4th quarter.
This was a huge win against a team that actually has a shot for the playoffs this year. It would be surprising to see that Orlando is only a game back of the 8th seed in the (L)Eastern Conference. Memphis showed that they were not laying down as they wanted to continue their winning ways extending their winning streak after great wins against Portland and Utah.
As GBB Site Manager Joe Mullinax says, “We Play To Convey.” Last night, they did just that.
Now on to grades:
Mike Conley- A
It makes you so happy to see what Mike Conley does for this team, and the appreciation and passion the whole team plays with because of him. Last night, he scored 26 points and added 8 assists and 5 rebounds. As mentioned above, 14 of those 26 came when the Grizzlies needed them the most. Night after night, he makes the big basket, and he is just a joy to watch. The Magic had no answer for Conley all night which he let them know in the final five minutes of this one.
Avery Bradley- A
Avery Bradley was flying on all cylinders in this one as he had the best +/- on the team at +26. That is a huge mark in a 8 point victory which really shows his impact on both ends of the court. Bradley finished the game with 21 points on 8-17 shooting, and was 3-8 from three. Where he made the most impact last night was on the defensive end of the court. He completely shut down Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross all game. Fournier was so thrown off that he received a double technical in the same screaming match and got tossed from the game. He finished without scoring a point at all.
Bradley was a major reason for this frustration and was a huge reason for the Grizzlies’ win.
Justin Holiday- B-
It was a quiet game for Justin Holiday only scoring six points on 0-1 shooting. All six points came from the free throw line. It only played 21 minutes as C.J. Miles caught fire a few times in this one, so his playing time was a cut back a bit. Holiday is still finding his niche role with this team. He can be the athletic defensive presence until Kyle Anderson is healthy.
Bruno Caboclo- C
The lineup is always interesting with Bruno in the starting five. He is not ready to contribute big minutes for any team trying to win, but yet he is still inserted in the starting lineup to start games for the Grizzlies. Against the Magic, he only played 18 minutes and scored 2 points on 1-4 shooting. Caboclo is a fun story, but he still has a lot of development ahead of him. Bickerstaff always has you asking questions, so why not keep Bruno in the starting five?
Jonas Valanciunas- B
There’s good and bad for Valanciunas to take away from this one. The bad is the offensive rebounds that the Magic were continuing to take away from the Grizzlies extended into multiple possessions for Orlando. Of course those are not all him, but the concern is still there when the team gives up 14 offensive rebounds to the opposing side. Contrast that with the good which is that clip above. It was a huge shift in momentum down the stretch as JV stuffed Wesley Iwundu’s dunk chance at the rim. He finished with 12 points and 4 big blocks in 25 minutes, but his impact down the stretch changed the game.
This brings me to my “What are you doing?” moment from J.B. Bickerstaff. With about 4:27 left in the game, Bickerstaff, for whatever reason, takes out Valanciunas for Joakim Noah. Don’t get me wrong, Noah is fine, but he should never play crunch time in place of JV. He did not come back into the game until 1:48 left in the game, and the next Magic possession had that block. Come on J.B...
As mentioned, the bench gave the team some much needed life in this one. C.J. Miles actually knocked down some key threes in this one to keep the score close. Joakim Noah also gave the team and crowd a spark once again scoring in double digits for this game. The rotations were still suspect with Parsons and Miles and Wright all on the court at the same time. Luckily, it did not matter for the team in this one as the bench played well.
It was a great win for the Grizzlies as the pack up their bags and hit the road. Their next game will be against Atlanta on Wednesday, March 13th. It will be a great match-up against rookie sensation Trae Young. Game tips off at 6:30 CST.