Let’s be honest; asking the Sacraento Kings to do us a favor was along shot, even if they had done once before. that’s why it shouldn’t have come as a huge shocker when the Clippers knocked off the Kings, meaning the Grizzlies will need to win at least one game at the Staples Center in their first round match-up against the Clips. On the bright side, the Grizzlies ended their season on a positive note, earning an 86-70 win against the Jazz, and finishing the season with a franchise best record of 56-26.
The clear star tonight was Zach Randolph, who flat out went off, putting in 25 points and 19 rebounds. Perhaps, Z-Bo had read the articles suggesting he might not be at 100 percent, and wanted to send a message to rest of the league that he was as scary as ever, and a threat to do some serious damage in the upcoming playoffs.
On a night when the Jazz’s offense was missing in action, Al Jefferson was the lone bright spot, putting in 22 points and 16 rebounds. With the Jazz missing the playoffs, and rumors abounding that he might be heading elsewhere next season, this may well have been Jefferson’s final game in a Jazz uniform. If it was, he truly went out in style.
No other member of the Jazz managed to reach double figures, and the Grizzlies notoriously stingy defense lived up to its reputation tonight, rendering everyone other than big Al woefully ineffective.
The Grizzlies second leading scorer was Mike Conley, had 14 points along with five assists. There wasn’t a lot fo noteworthy offensive production beyond Z-Bo and Big Al, but for Conley, this game was yet another reminder that he is a consistent, effective point guard. The kind of player who won’t be threatened by the likes of Chris Paul in the upcoming playoffs.
Darrell Arthur also had a strong night, recording 11 points in just 16 minutes of play. Arthur is something of a wild card, and whether or not he is able to produce could go a long way in determining the Grizzlies playoff fate. Tonight’s performance certainly gave reason for optimism.
It would be easy to dwell on the fact that the Grizzlies weren’t able to secure home court advantage, but instead, we can look at the positives; the team finished 30 games over .500, and by beating the Jazz, they enter the postseason on a winning note. This was – in terms of wins – the best regular season in franchise history. Will they follow it up with a deep playoff run? We’ll begin to find our answer on Saturday.