The Grizzlies have a knack for shutting down the best players on opposing teams. In a close loss to the Heat, they held LeBron to four points in three quarters before he finally broke out in the fourth. Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge were also forced into poor performances in recent games. Tonight, however, was the definitive example of the Grizzlies rendering an opposing player useless, as they kept James Harden to just seven points. The fact that he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter would indicate that after awhile, it just felt pointless to get him going.
This was a key victory for the Grizzlies. After two frustrating losses, the Grizz picked up the victory on their home court in a game that had an “everything is back to normal” vibe. Marc Gasol was back to his old ways, putting in 21 points, five rebounds and four assists. This makes it seem pretty clear that Gasol is back to normal, and the Grizzlies no longer need to worry about him being less than 100% as the postseason approaches. Considering how integral Gasol is to this team’s success, that has to be a huge relief.
Meanwhile, after an uncharacteristically absent performance against the Knicks on Wednesday, in which he only managed three points, Z-Bo was back in a big way tonight, coming through for 21 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists. This has eliminated any fear that Wednesday was the star of any kind of slump for Z-Bo, as he looked like the dominant power forward Grizzlies fans have grown accustomed to, tonight.
This game was a wonderful performance for the Grizzlies, putting the nightmare of Wednesday;s first half behind them once and for all. They were able to hold the highest scoring team in the NBA below 100 points, while completely taking their best player out of the game. The majority of Rockets players were unremarkable tonight, but young forwards Donatas Montejunas and Chandler Parsons were both effective, putting 16 points each. Both players were acquired well beyond the lottery in the 2011 draft, and they each serve as a reminder of just how good Rockets GM Daryl Morey is at scouting cheap talent. If Rockets fans are looking for a silver lining tonight, that would pretty much be it.
Mike Conley was effective on both ends of the floor tonight, putting in 15 points, 10 assists and four steals, while holding Jeremy Lin to eight points and 3-9 shooting on the defensive end. Really, this was a banner night for the Grizzlies backcourt on the defense, as the duo of Harden and Lin was rendered useless by the Conley and Tony Allen. One of Harden’s best assets is his ability to get to free throw line, but tonight, the intense perimeter defense of Allen took away that skill, as he would go the entire game without attempting a single free-throw. Allen had two steals of his own, while also having a strong offensive night, scoring 16 points on 8-12 from the field.
The Grizzlies will try to keep the good times rolling tomorrow night, as they head to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves. With the battle for home court heating up, the Grizzlies need all the wins they can get. Tonight was certainly a fine start.