The Grizzlies completed their perfect 4-game road trip tonight, taking down the Golden State Warriors in overtime by a score of 88-81. The Warriors, who haven’t beaten the Grizzlies at home since 2010, got off to a fast start and took a 10-point lead into halftime. Memphis, who leads the league in second-half field goal percentage (51.7%), came back to life in the third quarter, leaning heavily on Mike Conley and Zach Randolph to retake the lead going into the fourth. But four quarters weren’t enough: both Z-Bo and Andre Iguodala missed go-ahead shots at the end of regulation, with the score knotted at 75. Memphis controlled the overtime period to take the win, and now returns home for 8 of its next 9 games.
Steph Curry did not play with a head injury, limiting the Warriors’ pace and 3-point — let’s call it “unpredictability”. Neither did Tony Allen, whose severe lack of limb control cost him a one-game suspension. No matter: Memphis has now played seven and a half quarters without the Grindfather, and has been excellent for 5 of them. Tonight’s second half was totally controlled by the Grizz, who lost just 1 turnover after the break, and were thus able to dictate the pace of the game (you may have garnered that from the final score). Sixteen offensive rebounds (to GSW’s 7) helped counteract a 39% shooting night, and if that’s not Grizzlies basketball, I don’t know what is.
1. Early deficits continue to plague the Grizzlies; 33.3% shooting in the first quarter will do that to you, but the real issue tonight was defense. Memphis allowed 10 paint points in the 1st quarter (after allowing just 18 total in the last GSW meeting). To compensate, guards closed in on post players, leaving open perimeter shooters, which led to 4 three-point makes and thus a 10 point deficit. You could chalk this up to Tony Allen being out, but the Grizz went without TA for most of the Clippers game and still held them 7 points under their season average. The real problem seemed to be focus, presumably from exhaustion. At one point Kent Bazemore airballed a 3, Andrew Bogut caught the rebound, and THREE Grizzlies left their perimeter assignments and were just standing wistlessly in the lane. That’s not a good idea against anyone, least of all Golden State.
2. The defense improved dramatically in the second half, as Memphis held the Warriors to just 33 points and 5-18 from three. The interior D suffered again — the Dubs finished with 50 points in the paint — but Gasol got better as the game went on and played Iguodala perfectly on the final shot in regulation. The hot-shooting Warriors (sans Currie) shot just 27% outside the restricted area and gave up 16 points on 15 turnovers.
3. Have Golden State’s bigs gotten bigger in the last 10 days? Their interior presence bothered Z-Bo, Conley, and anyone who tried cutting to the basket all night. Gasol found the soft spot from midrange though, and finished his awesome road trip with another great line: 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks. Gasol carried the team through a mucky first half, per Joerger’s request. Once Bogut got 4 fouls (without a suitable backup), things got easier for Zach Randolph, who finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and another David Lee scalp for his belt.
4. Quincy Pondexter’s Batman mask has been the best thing about his season so far. Starting at the 2 in place of Tony Allen, Quincy utterly muffed his chance to earn the spot tonight with a 1-point, 19-minute first half, and a mostly forgettable second half. I truly believe, against most of the evidence, that Q-Pon is capable of becoming more all-around in addition to a legitimate 3-point threat. But Joerger shouldn’t listen to me on that. His minutes should be commensurate with production, not potential (per the Ed Davis rule). Mike Miller started the overtime period in Pondexter’s place.
5. The Grizzlies still have not figured out how to respond to double teams on Marc and Zach. Yes, a lack of perimeter shooting hurts, but even just getting the ball back out of the post was troublesome tonight. Especially with Marc, who still looks for passes with his back turned to the basket from 5 feet away. Mark Jackson sent the double teams late in the 4th quarter, stalling the Grizzlies’ offense in the final minutes.
6. Memphis has won 11 straight over Golden State. They snapped the Warriors’ perfect home record (after doing the same to LAC two days ago) and improve to 7-5 on the season. This is the first time the Grizzlies have swept a four-game road trip since 2004. I’m told a Ken Burns documentary, titled “Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies’ Assault on the State of California,” is slated for production. Rick Trotter will narrate.
The Grizzlies go up against the Spurs again on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. The game will air on ESPN.