First off, to those who read the preview for this game, my bad for not knowing Zach Randolph would be out of the lineup. Probably should have looked that up. Well, I was happy to see Ed Davis finally get some minutes after I had been shouting from the rooftops about that for weeks. Unfortunately, his performance was decidedly underwhelming, as he put in a mere three points in 25 minutes of playing time. Still, it’s clear that Davis is a much better player than that, so that will likely be a minor setback.
The Grizzlies looked very limp at the beginning of this game, as they were behind in the double-digits early on. They’ve done this a few times recently in games they’ve ended up winning, and I’m starting to theorize they may actually enjoy it. If you’re that good of a team, why not show off by giving the other guys a bit of a head start, and then inevitably surmounting it? Ok, this probably isn’t the case, but it’s fun to think about.
Predictably, the Blazers weak bench ended up being a huge problem, as four bench players combined for just 22 points. The only decent soul off the bench for Portland in this game was backup point guard Eric Maynor, who chipped in 12 points, four rebounds, and four assists in 25 minutes of playing time. Maynor was an excellent acquisition for a Blazers team that thoroughly needed someone to spell Damian Lillard. Unfortunately, the Blazers bench woes run far deeper than one position, so they’ll likely continue having a hard time.
J.J. Hickson had a solid night for Portland, putting in 12 points and 13 rebounds while taking on the excellent defense of Marc Gasol. With that said, Hickson was unable to stop Gasol on the offensive end, where he had one of his best games of the season, with 23 points and 12 rebounds in 41 minutes. Gasol was easily the Grizzlies MVP in this game, playing excellently on both ends of the floor, and playing an enormous role in the Grizzlies eventual comeback victory.
Mike Conley was also excellent in this one, as he managed to put in 20 points on 7-11 shooting, while also adding two steals and two blocks. Damian Lillard was solid with 20 points, but the Grizzlies tight defense prevented him from taking over the game.
The big bust for the Blazers tonight was LaMarcus Aldridge, who shot just 2-13 from the field for a total of 10 points. Shutting down Aldridge was key, as the Grizzlies tight defense did its job, rendering the opposing team’s best player in effective. As Aldridge goes, the Blazers often follow, and tonight, he was pretty much headed nowhere.
This was the Grizzlies 10th win in their past 11th games, putting their overall record at 40-19. This team continues to be red hot, and yes, they continue to not miss Rudy Gay even one teeny little bit. They’ll be trying to rack up another one against the Cavaliers in Cleveland this Friday, where there’ll be seeing old friends Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington. Speights has been excellent for the Cavs lately, so it’ll be fun to see if he can do anything against his old team. He certainly won’t have an easy time.