Well, this sure was a crazy game, huh? First off, my bad for not knowing Marc Gasol was out tonight. As for Zach Randolph being benched, well I think that was a surprise to all of us. Z-Bo apparently showed up late for the shootaround, and was kept out of the starting five as a result. This meant that Darrell Arthur and Ed Davis both found their way into the starting lineup. That was just one of many wild things that happened tonight, but all that matters is that the Grizzlies emerged victorious, taking down the Celtics by a final of 110-106.
Considering that Boston and Memphis both have relatively stingy defensive – and mediocre offenses – this logically should have been a low-scoring game, but it just didn’t work out that way. Both teams came out firing, and by the end of the first quarter, the Celtics were up by a total of 31-29. The Grizzlies would keep up the offense in the second quarter, while the Celtics tapered off considerably. This allowed Memphis to momentarily take control of the game, going up by a score of 61-51 at the half.
Despite being banished to a bench role, Zach Randolph still managed to be fairly effective, putting in 15 points and 11 rebounds, landing him close to his season average in both categories.
The star of this game, however, was easily Jerryd Bayless, who had his best game in a Grizzlies uniform tonight, putting up 30 points, along with 4 rebounds and three assists. Throughout Bayless’s first season in Memphis, he’s struggled to be as aggressive as he was the previous year with the Toronto Raptors, passing up shots he would normally take without a thought. Tonight, he reminded us of what an offensive fireplug he is capable of being when he’s really feeling it. The Celtics were powerless against Bayless tonight, and he was likely the biggest reason why Memphis ultimately emerged victorious.
Without Kevin Garnett in the lineup, the pressure was on Paul Pierce to produce offensively for the Celtics, and he was more than up to the task, putting 25 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Pierce’s efforts would end up falling short, however, in spite of a Celtics rally in the fourth quarter that nearly lead them to victory.
With the game looking just about over, the Celtics suddenly started hitting shots left and right. Most notable was the play of Jordan Crawford, who scored 21 points on 5-13 shooting from the field, and 9-10 from the free throw line. Without Courtney Lee in the lineup, Crawford was destined to get more playing time, and he certainly took advantage of it tonight. Crawford, much like his former teammate Nick Young, is the kind of the guy who seems useless when he’s cold, but can be incredibly dangerous when he heats up. The Grizzlies managed to survive Crawford’s fourth quarter onslaught, but it certainly was scary for a few moments there.
The Grizzlies are on the cusp of clinching a playoff berth. With one more win – or a loss by the Warriors – they’ll officially be in it. Now, they’ll get a few days of before heading to Washington to take on the Wizards this Wednesday. In the meantime, they’ve avenged Friday’s humiliating loss, and look to be on the right track once again. If Z-Bo can get to the arena on time on Wednesday, they should be fine.