In an earlier article, we started our list of the top 10 Memphis Grizzlies’ games of 2012. My colleague Chuck Livingston and I ranked the games from #10 to #6. Now we will look at the top five games of the year.
5.) November 14 at Oklahoma City Thunder
The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder are young up and coming teams in the Western Conference. Two seasons after the Thunder eliminated the Grizzlies in a tough seven game series in the Western Conference semifinals, the two small market teams just plain don’t like each other. Every time they meet, it is guaranteed to be a physical contest. Even in the middle of November, they two teams came out with playoff intensity.
The Grizzlies overcame a a slow start in the first where they were outscored 30-20 in the first quarter by dominating the second quarter 36-15. Memphis would take a 10 point lead into the fourth and would never give it up. With two minutes left in the game, when Memphis had it in control, Grizzlies’ forward Zach Randolph and Thunder center Kendrick Perkins would get into a shoving match that led to both being ejected. Reportedly, Randolph and Perkins had to be separated in the locker room area by arena security. Perkins allegedly challenged Randolph to a fist fight “outside by the buses.” Neither was disciplined by the league for the altercation. The Grizzlies held on for the 107-97 win. (KL)
4.) December 15 at Utah Jazz
Going into this game, Memphis had lost 3 straight games to fall from the best record in the league to the fourth best team in the Western Conference. They were on the last game of a three game road trip, and had lost 99-94 at the Denver Nuggets the night before. The Grizzlies hadn’t won at Utah since January 2007, almost 6 years.
Utah jumped out to a 54-44 halftime lead thanks to some blistering shooting. However, the Jazz went ice cold in the third quarter and were outscored 28-10 in the third. The Jazz made only 3 of 20 field goals in the quarter. Utah would get no closer than 4 points in the fourth quarter as Memphis won 99-86. Randolph had 25 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 steals in the win. (KL)
3.) April 9 vs Los Angeles Clippers
In what everyone was coming to realize would be a playoff preview, the Grizzlies and their fans filled FedEx Forum and brought some energy.
The fans jeered and booed Blake Griffin and Chris Paul at every chance and the Grizzlies won 94-85 as they posted their first win against the Clippers in the 2011-2012 regular season.
The Clippers pulled to within 86-83 with 55 seconds left, but Memphis would make all six of their free throws to secure the win. (CL)
2.) April 26 vs Orlando Magic
This was the 2012 season finale against the Orlando Magic. The Grizzlies knew what they had to do going into the last home game of the year. Win and they would be the Western Conference’s 4th seed and have home-court advantage in the first round against the Clippers.
The Magic were without Dwight Howard, but proved to be up to the challenge early on before the Grizzlies pulled away in the second half. The Grizzlies won the game 88-76, claimed a top 4 seed and home-court advantage in a playoff round for the first time in franchise history. (CL)
1.) May 11 vs Los Angeles Clippers
Despite having home court advantage, the Memphis Grizzlies lost 3 of the first 4 games in the Western Conference quarterfinals series against the Los Angeles Clippers. LA’s two best players Paul and Griffin were banged up with knee injuries. The first four games of the series were all decided by 7 points or less, including 2 one point Memphis losses and a 4 point loss in overtime. The Grizzlies staved off elimination at home in game 5 with a 92-80 win.
This game was really Memphis’ first glance of the Grit N’ Grind Grizzlies from 2011. The Grizzlies faced elimination on the road where they hadn’t won in the first round series yet but Memphis escaped with a 90-88 win that extended the series, and sent it back to Memphis to boot.
Although the Grizzlies lost game 7 at home 82-72, game 6 remains a good memory because they could have rolled over and called it a season, but didn’t. (CL)
While 2012 was a great year for Grizzlies’ fans that saw a lot of ups and downs, here’s hoping 2013 is even better. The Grizzlies have already established themselves as contenders with their great play early in the 2012-13 season. Let’s hope 2013 includes a championship parade down Beale Street in June!
Tags: Blake Griffin Chris Paul Kevin Durant Lionel Hollins Los Angeles Clippers Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies Mike Conley Jr. NBA OJ Mayo Oklahoma City Thunder Tony Allen Utah Jazz Western Conference Zach Randolph