The Grizzlies pulled their preseason record back to .500 last night with a nervy win over the revamped but depleted Milwaukee Bucks. Memphis’ full starting roster has yet to see the floor, but the regular rotation guys have been stepping up and their were even minutes available for the likes of Tony Gaffney and Melvin Ely.
After a strong first half, the Grizzlies left the door open for Milwaukee with poor shooting in the 3rd, needing a kind roll and ref’s whistle to retake the lead in the final minute. It was an encouraging finish on an uneven night.
I was lucky enough to score an invite to this game with a friend who has season tickets — great ones — so these observations are informed more by my own eyes and less by watching the game develop on film.
- The Grizzlies sat Z-Bo and Tayshaun tonight, the latter apparently still recovering from a nasty stomach bug. Joerger had fun with the lineups in their absence, often sending Calathes, Conley, and Bayless out at 1, 2, and 3 together. This led to an excess of game management and, surprisingly, a lot of offensive options. It’s a great small-ball lineup but it pretty much demands that Joerger play Gasol (and maybe Davis as well) to fill the holes on defense.
- Bayless got some time as the lone point guard last night, but it was Nick Calathes who really impressed. His passes looked smooth and controlled, especially the no-looks, none of which were exceedingly risky and all of which seemed to pay off. At one point he was directing traffic without the ball, signaling passes to Jerryd Bayless and generally helping the offense run better. Calathes will be a huge help this season, especially when commanding the backup unit — he seems to have no problem taking control of the offense.
- Quincy Pondexter played like a man possessed, shooting 64% and surprising everyone with agressive drives to the basket. He launched himself into the next round of pre-game hype videos with one particularly nasty jam over John Henson. Q-Pon led all scorers with 24, 17 of which came in the first half on 6-7 shooting. Keep an eye on Pondexter this season.
- Jon Leuer continues to impress, and Ed Davis continues to depress (me). Leuer was 4-6 for 8 points, with 6 rebounds and 3 assists in 23 minutes. Davis (who got the start) was 1-5 for 6 points in 28 minutes, though he did add 10 rebounds, a quarter of the team’s total. My thoughts about Leuer’s fit versus’ Ed’s were pretty much confirmed in person: Leuer is a perfect plug-n-play bench asset, where Ed Davis seems to be trying to hard to read the flow of the game, often unsuccessfully. Gasol and Leuer played a two-man game at one point, reading each other’s minds for a sweet alley-oop. The Grizz were +9 with Leuer on the floor, and -9 with Davis.
- As for the Bucks, most of their official roster was unavailable, but we did see a few interesting pieces. OJ Mayo may have gotten the better of his grudge match with Tony Allen, hitting 4 threes (but no twos?) for 14 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka “The Alphabet,” aka “The Greek Freak,” lived up to the hype. He’s a freakishly long and athletic ballhandler who tore up the Grizzlies’ bench with size and power. I’m guessing ESPN hype machine will sink its claws into him soon enough. Larry Sanders had 0 blocks, 6 fouls, and a bad temper.
Larry Sanders jumped up and slapped the backboard during dead ball and it sounded like gun shot. everyone in here ducked haha #mymemphis
— Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) October 16, 2013
The Grizzlies’ next preseason matchup is at Orlando on Friday, 6:00 p.m. (Central).