What a roller coaster that was. After an underwhelming first half, the Grizzlies seemingly had it figured out with a 10-point advantage in the third. Detroit pulled back ahead in the fourth, and led by 7 with just a few minutes remaining. The Grizz scored 5 straight in the final 34 seconds, and then took over in overtime to give Dave Joerger his first win, 111-108.
Tony Allen’s favorite rapper Future was in house to lead the pregame ceremony, and Tony took it to heart immediately, getting a block on Chauncey Billups’ first shot attempt and than grabbing the offensive rebound. He finished with 16 points on 60% shooting (no threes tonight, sadly), hit all 4 of his free throws, and added 5 steals and 4 assists.
Zach Randolph looked alive after a miserable first game in San Antonio. He got his first bucket on a fast break and then went to work on Greg Monroe, notching his first double-double of the season with 16 and 10. He also blew by Andre Drummond for a layup in overtime that put the Grizz up 7. Ron Tillery at the Commercial Appeal wondered whether this new offense was leaving Z-Bo behind — I think tonight proved otherwise. In fact, even if Zach doesn’t gun it up and down the floor the way Joerger would like, it’s good to have two totally different, totally reliable offensive philosophies you can switch between depending on the night.
The bench was productive again, controlling the second quarter and putting the Grizz on top at halftime. Bayless running the point instead of Calathes could become a problem, though: he telegraphs his passes, especially on fast breaks, and savvy defenders will know he’s about to pull up when he’s not stealing furtive glances. Koufos had a solid night, and seems like a good stylistic fit both for Joerger’s offense and the “grit n’ grind” ethos. Miller played 32 (!) minutes to Prince’s 20, but Prince hit a clinching 3 in overtime after sitting out nearly the entire second half, suggesting he might be more valuable with more rest.
Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers. Seven in the first quarter. Twenty on the game, leading to a couple dozen Piston points. The worrying part — I mean, the whole thing is worrying — is that they were coming on high pick and rolls with Conley handling the ball. That’s not a good sign coming from your point guard, and it’s also easier for the stealing team to score when they get it in the back court. This game would have been a cake walk if the Grizz had held onto the ball, as they did in the second when they outscored Detroit by 10.
Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum shredded Memphis’ interior D for most of the night, and the Grizz gave up silly and-one’s in all the wrong situations. Gasol stepped up with a block in the final minute of OT, but until then, it was open season for points in the paint: Detroit had 46.
The offense still has some spacing issues to work out. Things got crowded in the lane when Koufos and Randolph shared the floor, which makes everything difficult: passing, shooting, dribbling. It’s a matter of balancing personnel but also scheming, and Joerger was heard several times telling the Grizzlies *not* to run plays. I’m all in favor of letting things flow, but when a play *was* needed, Joerger made some great calls: a layup for Mike Conley to open Q3 to spark his second-half offense, and a beautiful iso for Marc Gasol in the final 10 seconds of regulation that also left Bayless and Conley open on the arc.