Somehow the Memphis Grizzlies decided to be a functional basketball team again.
Despite being without the services of C.J. Miles and Avery Bradley, and despite their best efforts to cough up the game in a fourth quarter that featured nine made threes for the Houston Rockets and a squandered 19 point 4th quarter lead, Memphis pulled out a victory over the much better Houston Rockets in overtime 126-125. It was a back and forth affair, with both teams featuring dominant performances on the offensive end and flashes of defensive hustle. The Grizzlies, of course, needed a win in their race to convey in the worst way after losses to Atlanta and Washington last week.
They got the win in this one. Here’s how.
The two man game lives in Memphis
Jonas Valanciunas and Mike Conley were the best one-two punch on the floor in this game, posting a combined 68 points on 42 shots alongside 21 rebounds and 9 assists. Their game continues to mesh well - Jonas as the aggressive screen setter, the rim runner that can score almost at will around the paint, and Mike as the facilitating driver of offense, the scorer off the dribble in a variety of ways in his own right. These two dominated their individual match-ups and helped lead the way for the Grizzlies.
This is why you signed Bruno Caboclo
For nights like this, and opportunities to eat minutes with veteran players out. Caboclo rose to the occasion on this night, scoring 15 points including a key few in the fourth quarter as the Rockets made their run. He was an efficient 6-10 from the field and was able to rebound effectively with seven boards while playing both on the perimeter and closer to the rim. You expect a young/raw player like Bruno to struggle at times, but at least there is a method to the madness with regard to the investment of minutes. You might as well see what he can do with the physical gifts he has as he tries to connect them to effective basketball play.
A good night for Bruno.
- Chandler Parsons led the team in plus/minus. This is probably more of an indictment of that particular in-game stat than anything, but Chandler appears to be moving slightly better and has been more comfortable in his own skin over the last couple games. He has scored double digit points in back to back games, which is a wonderful thing to type considering all Parsons has been through as a Grizzly. He scored six huge points in OT, and was capable of playing over 25 minutes in this contest. Hopefully he continues to find his game in his new, lesser physical state as an NBA player.
- They have to execute for a full 48 (or more) minutes. They got away from what was working for them in the 4th quarter offensively, becoming too dependent on dribbling and perimeter shots and not focusing on ball movement and penetration/cutting to the rim. When they get away from team basketball, they will lose, and lose badly. Only together will they find success.
- It feels like every James Harden shot is going in. What a special offensive player. He is probably a lock for top-5 in the NBA at this stage, and of course is in the conversation for MVP. His game offensively is so versatile, he is nearly impossible to guard. No matter what you do, you will be wrong.
Memphis will be in action next this Friday when they take on the Orlando Magic. The game tips off at 6:00 PM CT.