With the way things have gone for the Memphis Grizzlies lately, the past two nights shouldn’t surprise anyone. Yet, they continue to surprise and excite after a franchise-altering trade before the deadline.
On Tuesday night, the Grizzlies went to Portland to play the Trail Blazers. The Blazers, led by LaMarcus Aldridge and rookie Damian Lillard, were on the cusp of playoff contention thanks to an exciting young team and one of the better home-court advantages in basketball.
Memphis entered the game having won 12 out of it’s last 13 games, but mostly against soft competition. While the Blazers aren’t world beaters, they’re more than capable of getting a win, especially at home.
As we know now, the Grizzlies escaped with a close win, despite having led by 10 entering the 4th quarter.
Lillard was brilliant once again as he had 30 points, and Aldridge had 28 of his own, but nobody else scored in double digits for the Blazers. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies had five players with 10+ points, led by Marc Gasol’s 20 points and Zach Randolph’s 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers couldn’t have fallen on a worse date for the Grizzlies. For starters, they played the night before and a close game at that. All of their starters played almost 30 minutes and were forced to finish the game because they couldn’t put the Blazers away. As the Grizzlies grinded away in Portland, the Clippers sat at home, where they had been since Sunday when they hosted the Pistons.
A lot of times, a team may write a tough game on the road on the second night of a back-to-back as a schedule loss and you can usually tell what kind of team you’ve got if that happens. The Grizzlies hit the floor at Staples and had their finest performance since the Rudy Gay trade in beating the Clips 96-85.
Marc Gasol was again the difference maker as he had 21 points on 10-14 shooting. In addition to his usual offensive brilliance, he also added five steals as it seems like he had a hand in every passing lane all night long.
As great as Gasol was in Los Angeles, Tayshaun Prince had his first great game in a Grizzlies uniform as he scored 18 points on 9-15 shooting and adding six rebounds. At one point in the 4th quarter as Matt Barnes got beat by another Prince drive, Barnes was forced to throw his hands up in frustration. Prince may not have some of the high-flying antics of his predecessor, but he finished with three dunks on Wednesday night.
The Clippers were led by their two usual suspects, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, who had 24 and 22 points, respectively. Nobody else was able to get anything going outside of those two, however. The Clippers’ bench was especially underwhelming as that specific unit ended up with only 11 total points. Jordan Crawford, Sixth Man extraordinaire, was 1-10 from the field.
More importantly, the Grizzlies won their 14th game in 15 outings, owning only a narrow loss in Miami to the Heat in that time. Since trading Gay, Memphis is 15-4 overall. As many pundits as there were on the day of the trade, a lot of that chatter seems to have gone away. Becoming one of the hottest teams in basketball will do that for you.
Now that the first two games of the road swing are over, the Grizzlies can look ahead to Friday night in Denver for a game with the Nuggets and another back-to-back the next night against the Jazz in Salt Lake City.