If you watched last night’s game at all then you know that it wasn’t typical Memphis Grizzlies basketball. Without starting point guard Mike Conley Jr. in the lineup and playing in front of a sparse crowd at FedEx Forum, the Grizzlies did just enough to squeak past the Cleveland Cavaliers to get to 10-2 on the season.
To be honest, the Cavs outplayed the Grizzlies for most of the night until a typical Memphis stretch in the 4th quarter. The Grizzlies entered the final frame trailing by 7 points but outscored the Cavs from there 22-9.
Cleveland was led by Anderson Varejao’s 15 points and 22 rebounds. To go along with his awesome stat line, Varejao also pestered Marc Gasol and forced him to play away from the basket. Gasol still finished with 19 points and 6 rebounds, but he worked for every one of them as the Cavs dictated the tempo all night long.
Dion Waiters also picked up the slack on offense as he finished with 15 points.
The Grizzlies were led by Gasol and Zach Randolph, per usual. Both had 19 points and Randolph added 8 rebounds. That was a good night for anyone, but it was also the first time all season that Randolph didn’t register a double-double.
Quincy Pondexter had a big game for the Grizzlies off the bench. He had just 10 points, but hit at least three shots to halt a Cavaliers run and in a game where offense was so limited, the first team to go on an extended run was likely to win going away.
For the game, the Grizzlies actually shot 46.5% from the field, but turned it over 14 times and only forced 16 on the other end. Memphis held Cleveland to 40.8% from the field.
As referenced yesterday, the Grizzlies did escape what appeared to potentially be a letdown game and while it was sloppy and never really played too well, they did get a win. In a lot of instances, winning those games tells you a lot about the team’s resolve. As recently as last year, the Grizzlies would lose a game like the one last night, especially down one of their starters.
This year’s edition was able to turn it on just in time to beat a mediocre team where last year the Grizzlies lost home games to the Jazz, and Raptors. Those are two teams that had no business coming into Memphis and winning, but did. The Grizzlies avoided that situation for at least one more night.
That’s not to say that the Grizzlies will win every game that they should this year because that isn’t being reasonable, but at this point they have surpassed what many thought their record would be after 12 games. In fact, after looking at the schedule when it first came out, I thought that 6-6 or so would be good considering some of the elite teams in the first month of the season. I’m glad I was wrong.
The Grizzlies continue their homestand on Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors.