That post-trade lineup sure is starting to gel.
On Tuesday night, the Memphis Grizzlies won their third consecutive game, taking down the visiting Sacramento Kings by a final score of 108-101. Several Memphis starters had big nights, as Marc Gasol put in 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Mike Conley had 22 points and seven assists. Finally, Tony Allen had one of his best nights of the year, chipping in 19 points and seven rebounds. Admittedly, the trio’s performance was far from flawless, as they combined for 13 turnovers. Still, their excellent shooting was enough to carry the Grizzlies to victory.
Allen played a huge role early in the game, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. While his offense is usually somewhat limited, he’s an extremely energetic, hard-working player, and on nights like this, that can lead to flurries of baskets. Allen’s big moment of the night came late in the second quarter, when he threw down an absolutely thunderous dunk that had the Fed Ex Forum crowd going wild.
The primary reason for the Grizzlies win came from their excellent shooting, which isn’t something you’ll hear about this team very frequently. The team shot 54.6 percent from the field, with Gasol shooting a particularly impressive 8 of 13. Gasol hit a few clutch shots that kept the Grizzlies ahead when the Kings were making runs, including a huge and-1 that stopped a brutal Grizzlies drought in the late 4th quarter.
The bench played reasonably well in this game, although Jerryd Bayless had an off night, shooting a mere 2 of 7 from the field in 24 minutes. Bayless had been one of the hottest shooters on the team recently, so he was due for a rough night. While not as impressive as his past two games, Austin Daye was solid, chipping in 7 points on 3-6 shooting. Daye may not be spectacular, but he’s continuing to establish himself as a solid role-player off the bench who just might do some damage in the playoffs.
One frustrating point was the continued lack of playing time for Ed Davis. He played only 6 minutes, in which he managed to score 4 points. After a run in the second quarter where he looked quite good, coach Lionel Hollins inexplicably decided not to play him for the rest of the game. It’s understandable that Hollins is frustrated about the lack of a true backup center, but Davis has too much talent to be receiving such little playing time. He was blossoming in Toronto before the trade, and he has the potential to be an excellent third big man for Memphis. At a certain point, Hollins needs to swallow his pride and give Davis some minutes. It will only make the team better.
For the Kings, DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans led the way, as the two combined for 43 points, and both nailed half of their shots. This game served as a reminder of the immense talent that both players have, even though neither has fully utilized it yet. The most notable aspect of the game for Sacramento may have been their excellent 90s throwback uniforms, which were half black and half purple. They’re a bit more avant-garde than the average NBA jersey, but it’s a cool look, and I wish the Kings had stuck with it.
This win showed that the Grizzlies are beginning to solidify – as Charles Barkley put it – after the Rudy Gay trade, and the new lineup is quickly figuring how to play together. Gasol and Zach Randolph (who had 13 points and 9 boards) are doing more scoring in the post, and the team seems to be more comfortable in that setup. As stated previously, Ed Davis really needs to start getting more minutes, but other than that, this group looks pretty good, and those who predicted doom after the Gay trade have been silenced momentarily.
The Grizzlies are done until after all-star break. For their next game, Tayshaun Prince makes his return to Detroit as the Grizzlies take on the Pistons in one week, where they’ll try to make it four in a row.