As the dual between the Nets and Bulls kept going on, I stared at the ticker showing the Grizzlies-Clippers score. Desperately hoping for Brooklyn and Chicago to just be done with it already, two worries crossed my mind:
1. What if I don’t get to watch any of the first half?
2. What if the Grizzlies blow this early lead by then?
My suspicions would be confirmed on both counts. By the time I finally got to watch some action in this game, the third quarter was about to start, and the Clippers had taken a one point lead, with the halftime score being 47-46. Luckily, that didn’t last too long. The Grizzlies absolutely took over in the second half, cruising to an easy victory, and evening the series up at two games each.
Let’s talk about Marc Gasol for a second. How brilliant was he in this game? On both sides of the ball, he simply dominated, and much to the chagrin of Chris Paul, he was the best player on the court by far today. One of the game’s definitive moments came when the Grizzlies inbounded the ball with 0.6 on the shot clock. Marc got the ball, and quickly nailed a long-two, electrifying the crowd, and stupefying the Clippers. He would a similar buzzer-beater later on the quarter, as his jumper was dead-on today.
Mike Conley deserves a ton of credit for this win as well. With Keyon Dooling injured, and Jerrdy Bayless ineffective in nine minutes of play, the pressure was on Conley to run the Grizzlies offense, and he was more than up to challenge, making several brilliant passes. He would end up with 13 assists on the day. Conley has continued to prove that he can take on a larger role in the Grizzlies offense, and his strong performance tonight was another iteration of that. Game after game, Conley has illustrated to the Grizzlies that they can count on him.
Z-Bo had another big game too, putting in 24 points in nine rebounds. His well-known skill of tipping in shots came in handy today, as he had his second straight great performance. After looking a bit off in the first two games, Z-Bo appears to have gotten his groove back. He had 16 points and nine rebound sin the first half, and once again looked dominant in the post. If he can play this well when things go back to Los Angeles, the Grizzlies should be in good shape.
There were countless great performances by the Grizzlies today. Quincy Pondexter hit double figures for the second straight game, and he hit a huge three early in the fourth quarter that extended the Grizzlies lead to nine, and allowed them to pull away. Tony Allen had 10 points of his own, but more importantly, he forced Jamal Crawford into poor shots all game with his stellar perimeter defense.
CP3 and Blake had decent stats, scoring 19 points each, but the Grizzlies stopped them when it mattered, rendering Paul ineffective in the second half, and making Griffin essentially irrelevant with their dominant post defense. The Grizzlies have proven they can prevent the Clippers’ star players fro taking over games. now, the question is whether or not they can do it in Los Angeles, and the answer to that question is what will ultimately decide the series. See you on Tuesday, folks.