Another night, another win over a Finals participant from the previous season. The Memphis Grizzlies certainly may not have been surprised by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they would have had to be shocked to see that this game followed the script from the win over Miami last Sunday in Memphis.
The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder by 21 in the second quarter and never looked back. Paced by Rudy Gay’s 28 points and another double-double from Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies were able to beat the 2012 Western Conference champions on their home floor 107-97.
Memphis actually entered that second quarter down 10 as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were doing what they do. However, from that point on it was all Memphis as the Grizzlies’ new-look bench continued to deliver in big moments.
Quincy Pondexter continued his good play as he logged 27 minutes off the bench (an eternity for Lionel Hollins to play any bench guy not named O.J. Mayo) and scored 13 points. Included in those 13 were three 3 pointers that have been so hard for the Grizzlies to come by in recent seasons.
Jerry Bayless and Wayne Ellington also played produced and scored 12 and 6 points, respectively.
As well as the bench played, this game was truly about Rudy Gay. All you’d need to do is search our archives here at BSB to find an article where I was critical of Rudy, but he was fantastic on Wednesday night. It wasn’t even the 28 points as much was it was how efficient he was in arriving there. Gay shot a tidy 12-21 from the field and 2-3 from long distance. He also chipped in with 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
He even held Kevin Durant to to 34 points. That’s not a typo. He really scored 34, but that’s Kevin Durant. If he doesn’t score 30 in a game, I assume that he battled foul trouble or was suspended. At worst, Rudy made Durant work on the defensive end, draining him just enough on offense to where he couldn’t totally take the game over.
For my money (I have none, by the way) this was Rudy’s best performance since probably before his injury in February of 2011. At that time he was playing All-Star caliber ball. Since that time, Rudy hasn’t played at that same level. Maybe he wasn’t truly recovered from his injury, maybe physically he was well but was afraid of injury. The only person that can truly know that is Rudy Gay.
Regardless of any sort of speculation like that, when Rudy Gay is efficient scoring the ball, but still playing within the Grizzlies’ team dynamic, Memphis can be as good as anyone. That’s the Rudy gay that the Grizzlies sorely needed in 2011 and rarely saw last season.
I’m not sure what the future holds for the Grizzlies or the rest of the NBA, but if the last two games are any indication then this could truly be a memorable year in The Bluff City.