Game 5: Overtime, Again

In Historic 4th Straight OT Game, Grizz Prevail

Serge Ibaka’s put back off a Kevin Durant miss came a fraction of a second too late. Literally. A tenth of a second separated a 1 point, 100-99 Grizz overtime win, from a 1 point, 101-100 Thunder overtime win. Were you expecting anything less?

photo by Nikki Boertman

photo by Nikki Boertman

For the fourth consecutive game, the Grizzlies and Thunder played 48 minutes. And then they played 5 more. Because why the hell not? Never before has that happened in a playoff series. But never before has there been a series like Memphis-OKC. I understand that’s circular reasoning, but it’s true. Perhaps these teams will have beat one another to such a pulp that neither can move on to the conference finals, but regardless, this is something special, and we are witnesses…Lebron isn’t using that anymore is he?

It’s Miller Time

While Tony Allen continues to drop TA bombs on Kevin Durant, and thus the Thunder’s offense, the Grizzlies have suffered their own shooting woes. Mike Miller said no más. When Memphis won the Miller sweepstakes last summer, over OKC nonetheless, this is what they had in mind. Playing in all 82 regular season games was just an added bonus. Going 5-8 from downtown, and tying a season high 21 points, Miller led the way for Memphis as the team’s high scorer. A 27 foot bomb late in the second quarter was particularly memorable. Just a hunch, but I bet he likes deep dish pizza.

Below are Miller’s shoes from last night. On the swoosh he wrote “BORN 4 THIS”. Just above that reads, “I CAN’T, WE CAN”.

photo by Nikki Boertman

photo by Nikki Boertman

Joey Crawford Goes Rogue

The highlight package featured by most t.v. stations and websites focuses on an awkward moment, as Thunder coach Scott Brooks put it, when Kevin Durant was shooting two free throws near the end of overtime. With 27.5 seconds remaining, and the scoreboard reading 100-99, what would eventually be the final score, Joey Crawford went Joey Crawford. After making the first, Durant received the ball for his second attempt when suddenly, the [insert scathing adjective of choice] referee blew his whistle and demanded the ball back. He proceeded to approach the scorer’s table and verbally assaulted some poor soul for repeatedly failing to correct an error on one of the video boards in Chesapeake Energy Arena. The issue regarded team fouls…supposedly, but who knows. The 89% free throw shooter assumed to be MVP missed the attempt, when it finally came, and you know the rest. It was an awkward moment indeed, but it worked out for the Grizz. @corkgaines had a little fun, creating this gif.

@corkgaines had a little fun with it, creating this gif

@corkgaines

Westbrook Delusional 

In the post game interview, Westbrook and Durant came out looking like clowns, as usual. Most of the questions were directed at KD, but when Westbrook got a window, he delivered. He boasted that if given a 15 foot (jumper), he’d make it 9 times out of 10. 90% was his self-assessed shooting percentage. In reality, in this series, he has shot a blistering 6-of-23 from 8-16ft. That’s 26%. 90% is not 26%. 26% is not 90%. Unless you’re Russell Westbrook. Furthermore, he is 0-14 in all 4 overtime periods combined, with 1 point from the foul line. Westbrook is a top 10 athlete in the league, even after multiple knee surgeries. He’s clearly not a top 10 mind, though.

We love you Russ. But actually we despise you. But keep shooting.

 

Round 1: Stupid Good

In what is being dubbed the most exciting first round in recent memory, and probably ever, Memphis-OKC epitomizes the equality which has defined round 1.

Miami’s sweep. Not surprising. But then there’s everyone else. 8 seed Atlanta leads 1 seed Indiana 3-1. Brooklyn and Toronto are tied 2-2. Washington has just dispatched Chicago 4-1. Bulls fans, you’re not the only ones missing Derrick Rose. We hope he’s back soon, and better than ever. Then there’s the West.

Grizz-Thunder and Rockets-Trailblazers has contained enough overtime to comprise 48 minutes of a regulation game, or at least enough heartbreak. The Grizzlies lead 3-2 and can close out Thursday, while Portland can clinch tonight as they have a 3-1 advantage. Also tonight, Dallas and San Antonio will break their 2-2 deadlock. The Clippers now lead 3-2 over Golden State, just after Commissioner Silver’s lifetime ban reigned down upon Donald Sterling. This is why we love the NBA playoffs.

-Travis Nauert

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Fear and Loathing in OKC

He chuckled. “As your attorney,” he said, “I advise you not worry.” He nodded toward the bathroom. “Take a hit out of that little brown bottle in my shaving kit.”

   “What is it?” 

   “Adrenochrome,” he said. “You won’t need much. Just a little tinytaste.”

   I got the bottle and dipped the head of a paper match into it.

   “That’s about right,” he said. “That stuff makes pure mescaline seem like ginger beer. You’ll go completely crazy if you take too much.”

…My body felt like I’d just been wired into a 220 volt socket.


   It was after midnight when I finally was able to talk and move around . . . but I was still not free of the drug; the voltage had merely been cranked down from 220 to 110. I was a babbling nervous wreck, flapping around the room like a wild animal, pouring sweat and unable to concentrate on any one thought for more than two or three seconds at a time.

-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

 

Hopefully, you’ve read that book, or at least seen the movie. But even if you haven’t, I’ll take it that you can sympathize with why these lines came to mind after Monday night’s game 2 between the Grizz and Thunder. As midnight passed, I struggled to hit my REM cycle with an exam approaching in just over 12 hours. I was jacked up on adrenochrome. Ok, it was just regular naturally secreted adrenaline, but a deluge had flooded my bloodstream.

It’s likely that some residual pain from the 3 OT loss will always linger, but for now, most of it has dissipated. Just as Mike Conley and Greivis Vasquez connected on desperation heaves forcing extra time in that classic three years ago, last night Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins added to the archive of highlights which exemplify the ongoing roshambo that is the Grizzlies-Thunder rivalry. The unfortunate nature of those specific highlights, for Memphis fans in 2011 and now Oklahoma City fans in 2014, is that they came in losing efforts.

Up 5 with under 30 seconds remaining, a glimpse of light shone on the Grizzlies as they had seemingly done enough to split on the road and head home with the series tied 1-1. Then Kevin Durant happened.  A near Tony Allen steal turned into a freak 4 point play as Marc Gasol hip checked KD, who simultaneously saved a dangerous Westbrook pass (Westbrook out of control, no way?) and launched a shot from the corner as he fell into court-side seating. It was the only thing, aside from choking at the foul line, which Memphians know too much about, that could have kept OKC alive. And it did.

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

On the last play of regulation, after a split pair of Conley free throws, Westbrook bombed a potential game winning three, but it hit the front iron and bounced far side into the hands of the bumbling Kendrick Perkins. K-Perk put the ball off the glass for his first and only shot attempt of the game. The ball travelled the circumference of the rim as if by habit, confused by the accuracy of his placement and expecting to finagle its way out of the basket. Eventually, it dropped through the net and on the game went to extra time, tied at 99.

Not to worry. Zach went ham, as in hamburglar, taking what was rightfully his in overtime and outscoring the Thunder by himself 8-6. The Grizz went up for good with 26 seconds remaining as TA dropped a sly dish to ZBo on the left post that he finished calmly.

(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

There were many noteworthy contributions. Mike Miller’s three late in regulation off a Conley assist regained a briefly squandered lead. Beno Udrih’s 14 points came on 6-8 shooting. The latter sparked a series of puns including Geoff Calkins’ claim that Beno gave Memphis “a shot of Udrihnaline”, especially appropriate for this post. Courtney Lee had a quiet 16 points, if there ever were such a thing for this frequently offensively challenged team. Despite feeling the force of Serge Ibaka’s league leading shot blocking ability, Ed Davis provided a quick burst of energy with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 9 minutes.

And then there was The Grindfather. 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals fail to measure his effect on the game and importance to the team. Throughout, and especially down the stretch, TA made OKC players and fans wildly uncomfortable. Whether through face guarding, fronting, or denying the passing lane, Tony did it all. He would even switch off Durant and onto Westbrook in the same possession, effectively blowing the Thunder’s mind and dropping a TA bomb on their offensive sets. It was vintage Tony Allen. Enjoy:

Ok, so his poise and decisiveness on the fast break and offensive end wasn’t necessarily vintage, but it was brilliant.

The emotion that followed the final buzzer was one part relief, one part elation, and two parts I need new underwear. The win shifts home court advantage in Memphis’ favor as the series moves to the Grindhouse for games 3 & 4. The Grizz look to extend a franchise record 14 game home win streak.

Last night saw some milestones reached as well, with Memphis donning Beale Street Blue for the first time in playoff history. Also, Coach Joerger earned his first playoff victory. Congrats, Coach. Joerger-bombs for everyone!

 

-Travis Nauert

Dragon Slayed

Grizz top Suns, Clinch 4th consecutive playoff birth

The Grizzlies started fast, faltered midway, but finished strong to stave off the desperate Suns, eliminating Phoenix from postseason contention and punching themselves a ticket to the Western Conference Playoffs. ZBo continued his late season dominance, posting a season high 32 points for his first 30+ game since 2012. His final score came with 47 seconds left off a 1 on 2 lumbering “fast break”. ZBo’s bear paw stole a Goran Dragic pass as he set off on a marauding full court rampage. He came to a jump stop, then pulled an up and under move on P.J. Tucker and Channing Frye before kissing the orange off the glass. Memphis led 95-91 at that point.

Mike Conley was his usual clutch self with 8 points, 2 assists, and 2 rebounds in the final five minutes. Mike Miller, who stands as the lone Grizzly to play in all 81 games thus far (who woulda thunk it), recorded his own season high of 21 points, going 5-6 from beyond the arc, including a pivotal bomb from the right wing with just over 3 minutes remaining. A Conley three coming from the same spot as Miller’s gave Memphis the lead for good at 93-91.  The next possession, Zach got his coast to coast bucket which was eerily similar to a sequence that came against the Spurs in round 1 of the 2011 playoffs. Going 1-4 from the foul line in the last 30 seconds, Conley left the window open, but Memphis prevailed anyway by a final score of 97-91.

Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Tony Allen brought his essential, erratic energy as usual. After a strong third quarter by Phoenix saw the Suns take the lead, TA went end to end and gracefully (no, but really) scored a scooping layup (pictured above) as the buzzer sounded at the end of the third quarter.  Down the stretch he guarded Dragic, alternating with Mike Conley and forcing others to initiate the Suns’ offense.

The win clinched a franchise record fourth consecutive playoff berth, and an opportunity to seize the 7th seed and a matchup against OKC should the Grizzlies get past Dallas on Wednesday. Beating the Mavericks would also give the Grizz another franchise record in the form of 14 straight home wins. Last Friday’s win over the 76’ers tied the previous mark of 13. A series with OKC would obviously be more desirable than one with the Spurs, who own the best record in the league at 62-19. That also happens to be the best record San Antonio has achieved in the Popovich-Duncan era. For reference, the Spurs are about to embark on their 17th consecutive playoff campaign, tying the Lakers streak from ’77-’93 which saw them win 5 championships.

Just prior to tipoff, Matthew Preston, aka Grizzlam (twitter handle @mattyp90), sent shockwaves through the twitter verse, silencing @sunsaholic’s tiresome all-caps rant.  Additionally, he dropped this masterpiece:

 

image by @mattyp90

image by @mattyp90

All of the Grizzlies pictured above, in addition to Mike Miller, played a critical role in downing the Suns, led by the Dragon.  Admittedly, Dragic had an incredible season pacing Phoenix under first year head coach Jeff Hornacek.  A team predicted to win 20 some odd games grossly overachieved, especially considering Eric Bledsoe missed almost half the season (39 games).

With the Grizzlies failing to clinch a playoff spot until last night, some fans might have wondered if ZBo could possibly be playing his final home game in FedEx Forum Wednesday night should Memphis miss out on the postseason. An impending contract situation plus front office desires to further leave their mark on the team has created doubt in the minds of a couple people. For now, Zach refused to let his time in Memphis get cut short, as he has added at the very least an additional two home games to schedule. In management’s defense, Tony Allen’s new contract is nothing short of a sign to further commitment with the current core. With Memphis etched into this year’s playoffs under first year coach Dave Joerger, it would appear ZBo will be donning Beale Street Blue for the foreseeable future, and that’s how it should be. Plus, can you imagine him in any other uniform now?

(AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

 

-Travis Nauert

Grizz Stumbling as Finish Line Nears

Grizz on Life Support

Sunday night stole even more air from the Grizzlies’ lungs as San Antonio swept the season series with Memphis.  This comes after a destructive road trip saw the Grizz lose 3 of 5, including a crushing loss in Golden State.  The magical 10th anniversary season that climaxed with a 4-2 first round win over those same Spurs seems like a distant memory.  Since ZBo entrenched himself in Memphis basketball lore, the Spurs have won 14 out of 16 games against the Grizz and 10 straight inside AT&T Center.  5 games remain for Memphis, with 3 of those coming against Miami, Phoenix and Dallas.  Dallas has all but closed the window on Memphis by holding the tiebreaker advantage, and the Mavericks look primed for a Red-River showdown (ready for college football anyone?) against #2 seed Oklahoma City. 

This leaves the Grizzlies and Suns duking it out for 8th, and Phoenix holding a 1 game advantage.  4 of Phoenix’s last 5 games are on the road, with the 1 home game coming against Memphis.  The Grizz have what appear to be 2 freebies against the 76ers and Lakers, but as last week’s games against the Timberwolves and Nuggets show (granted, both are better teams than Philadelphia and LA), nothing is free this time of year.  Teams eliminated from playoff contention find purpose and pleasure in playing the spoiler role. 

Many scenarios can play out, including one in which the Grizz lose that game in Phoenix, but win out otherwise and still find themselves in the playoffs via tiebreaker.  Phoenix is about to embark on a Southwest division foxtrot, facing New Orleans, San Antonio, and Dallas all on the road (San Antonio and Dallas is a back-to-back), followed by the game against Memphis Monday night in the desert.  Things have already gotten hairy for the Grizz, but now they could get furry, as in we will need a fur coat to hibernate through the offseason…Only it’s going to be hot as hell in Memphis during the offseason, so forget the fur coat. You know what I’m saying. 

“Tank” vs Playoff Push

Waking up in agony (exaggeration? sadly no) over this late season free fall, I’ve tuned into the Geoff Calkins and Chris Vernon shows to soak in my own sorrow.  Consequently, I was blindsided this morning when I heard the following idea thrown around: the Grizz should “tank” these last few games to draft (at worst) 14th versus 21st and likely get stonewalled 4-0 or 4-1 by the Spurs.  I heard the arguments in favor.  Why fight for your lives to play a mere 4 or 5 extra games when you could improve your draft position by 7 or so picks?  Sure, the probability of Memphis grabbing the #1, 2, or 3 picks amounts to less than 1%, but isn’t that about the same chance we have of beating the Spurs?  

Honestly, I find this talk disgusting, unproductive, and illogical.  Follow me on this one.  Say, for instance, the Grizz had taken care of business and earned a 4, 5, or 6 seed.  Say we go out and beat the Rockets or Trailblazers or Clippers in the first round.  Then, we go out and beat OKC in the second round, like we did last year.  Then what?  We still play Spurs!!!  It’s the same argument and mentality a team must bring into March Madness.  If you want to win, you have to beat everyone.  You are going to have to beat the best teams, no matter when you play them.  Enter the skeptic who says, “but what if team X (Golden State, LAC, whoever) knocks out the Spurs and the Grizzlies don’t have to play San Antonio?”  Then we still have to go out and win a series against a really damn good team.  It was already fortuitous enough that Russell Westbrook was sidelined with injury and the Grizz were able to beat OKC in the first place last season.  Good fortune always plays a part in navigating a minefield of a tournament like the NBA Playoffs.  

When I think of tanking, something like Philadelphia’s record tying 26 game losing streak comes to mind.  A spell of such abysmal play will actually benefit the 76ers in the end, as they have rigged the odds in their favor to win out out on the Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker/Julius Randle/Joel Embiid sweepstakes (pending draft declaration…but let’s be real).  Tanking the final 5 games in order to improve your draft pick from 21 to 14 (rough estimates of course) will achieve little to no results.  I can appreciate that these people are thinking about marginal benefits, I’m an econ. major after all, but at some point the margins are, well, too marginal.        

Concluding this rant, I will quote Herm Edwards: “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!”  In no way do I mean to insinuate the team is taking this approach.  The fact that some fans and writers are, however, is depressing and probably doesn’t even warrant the energy I’ve just spent writing this, but I digress.  I still find it completely plausible that the Grizzlies find a way in and will be playing basketball on April 19th when the playoffs begin.  As bad as the execution and chemistry has looked, Wednesday night provides the perfect stage for one last stand.  An ESPN televised game against the defending champion Heat looms, a contest that will be played inside FedEx Forum where Memphis has won 11 straight.  The crowd should be close to if not sold out, and the atmosphere will be raucous.  While the Grizz are fighting to make the playoffs, most can agree that Darwin’s theory of natural selection is already playing out, just not in the arena he envisioned.  

Godspeed Grizz Nation.

-Travis Nauert   

 

 

 

State of the Grizz – All Star Special

Priming for Playoff Push

The Grizzlies have reached the unofficial halfway point of the season.  52 of 82 games have been played, so my college level-ish math skills tell me 30 games remain.  The break comes with opportune timing.  Marc Gasol aggravated his left knee sprain last Wednesday at Orlando in an 86-81 win over the magic.  Mike Conley continues to nurse a sprained ankle, and Tony Allen nears his return from a nebulous wrist injury that has sidelined him for 20 consecutive games.

Spruce Durden – USATODAY Sports
Marc no like injury

The injuries have been a nuisance, and fans wonder where a healthy Grizz team could be in the playoff race versus where it currently stands.  At 29-23, Memphis trails both 8th seed Golden State and 7th seed Phoenix by 1½ games, and 6th place Dallas by 2 games. Furthermore, the Rockets, Clippers, and Trailblazers claim the 3, 4, and 5 seeds respectively, with all three holding a 6½ game cushion over the Grizzlies.  This means Memphis is well within striking distance of a number of playoff scenarios and match-ups, all contingent on performance and of course good health.

Standings from espn.com

Standings from espn.com

A Note on Tiebreakers

If a tie were to occur between the Grizzlies and any Southwest division foe (most likely Dallas and Houston at this point), the Grizzlies will ultimately lose said tie based on NBA tie breaking rules, which state that a tie between two divisional opponents is first decided by head to head results, and, in the case of a season series tie, record against divisional opponents determines the higher seed.  At 2-11 in the division, and with only 3 Southwest games remaining (New Orleans, San Antonio, and Dallas), Memphis has dug too deep of a hole should that scenario emerge.  Thus, even the season series split with Houston would prove futile when comparing overall divisional records.  Despite the shortcomings against regional rivals, the fact that people such as 5 time NBA Champion Steve Kerr are already dubbing Memphis as “the team nobody wants to play” is a further testament to the competitiveness and quality of the Southwest division.

Steve Kerr

Injuries Have Made Team Stronger

While many people wonder where the Grizz “could be”, I look at where the team is now, and where they began the season. The additions of Courtney Lee and James Johnson improved the roster on both sides of the floor.  In Tony Allen’s absence, Courtney Lee has provided solid defense and reliable, timely three point shooting.  James Johnson appeared out of nowhere, showing an uncanny ability to get to the rim, guard the perimeter, and block shots at will.  Marc Gasol’s early exit provided invaluable experience for Ed Davis, Kosta Koufos, and Jon Leuer.  

Then there is the polarizing topic of Nick Calathes.  Say what you will about the Greek-American and former Florida Gator, but most if not all NBA rookies require an adjustment period, and while there may be too little time left in the playoff race to endure an “adjustment period”, signs point towards Calathes turning the corner.  Since we flipped the calendar to February, Calathes has scored double digits in 6 of 7 games, showing to be more capable from 3 than originally thought.  He is 9 of 22 from beyond the arc in these seven games for a .409 3P%.  His deceptive size (listed at 6’6″ in your programs) can create matchup problems as well.  Again, in February, Calathes has one game with 1 steal, one game with 2 steals, and two games with 3 and 4 steals each. Do the arithmetic, carry the one, and that’s 18 steals in 6 games. Not too shabby. 

Nelson Chenault /USAToday Sports

Nelson Chenault /USAToday Sports

Still, turnovers remain an issue.  6 against Cleveland in a loss, 6 against Dallas in a loss, and 4 against Atlanta in a tight win on the road.  Let’s be real for a second, no one is arguing that Calathes is a starting point guard for this team.  He has been thrust into a starting role for an indefinite but brief period. Mike Conley will return after the All Star Break, so it’s not like the team is counting on Calathes to lead the Grizz into the playoff hunt.  Even then, the transfer window remains open until the trade deadline passes next Thursday, February 20th at 2PM Central time.  So, time remains for possible upgrades if the front office desires to do so.  However, history can be linked between the front office and Calathes.  A Memphis Flyer article from June 2013 noted what would have happened “If Holliner Had Made The Picks”

The Remaining Hurdles – A Look at the Schedule Down the Stretch

Only 13 home games remain in the regular season, and 17 on the road.  The standings graphic above shows the Grizzlies have actually produced results away from home, with a 15-9 record outside of FedExForum.  On the other hand, a 14-14 record in Memphis has left something to be desired.  Home headliners include the second game out of the break, February 21st against the Clippers, where the first 5,000 fans receive the highly anticipated GRIZZLIES fake neck tattoo.  In March, games against the Trailblazers and East leading Pacers loom, in what should be a defensive clinic.  Finally, the season winds down in April with ESPN broadcasted games against Denver and Miami, and the season finale against Dallas which could turn into a 1 game series “play in” scenario.

February 28th will be the first big road test against the familiar Thunder in OKC.  A jam packed March gives way to 17 Grizz games, with 11 coming on the road.  An ESPN game in Chicago comes March 7th.  March 21st brings the first matchup of the year against reigning champ Miami.  Then, another ESPN game in Utah on March 26th kicks off a 5 game road trip that extends into April.  Opponents include Golden State, Portland, and Denver.  Furthermore, games in San Antonio (on NBATV), Los Angeles (Lakers), and Phoenix await.

First 15

courtesy ESPN.com

courtesy ESPN.com

Bottom Line: It’s going to be a long tough road to the finish. 17 of the 30 games remaining come against playoff teams by my count (East and West), and more games on the road than at home as already noted (which could be good if the first 52 games indicate anything).  In my opinion, the Grizzlies boast way too much experience compared to Golden State and Phoenix, teams Memphis has performed well against this year.  With the team looking for its 4th consecutive playoff birth led by an incumbent core, it seems unthinkable that this team would not reach the playoffs.  A stellar stretch run could see the Grizz fighting for home court advantage.  If injuries continue to impose their will, then Memphis in May will seem a little empty this year.

To be honest, I am not concerned about the playoff race.  It will play out, and the best teams will earn their place.  It will be a heated race right up until the spot has been clinched, but confidence is key.  The only thing I am really worried about is what the new growl towels will look like.

Photo by Justin Ford

Photo by Justin Ford

-Travis Nauert

November 18, 2013.

Memphians will forever know this date as “JT Day.”

OH, and the day Kosta Koufos SHOWED UP in LA and Tony Allen roundhoused CP3. Of course Z-Bo continued his Clipper-killing streak with 26 points and 15 rebounds. This was so worth the wait.

To celebrate the fabulousness I’m feeling, I compiled my favorite tweets, pictures, etc. from last night.

grizz-106447676-630

 

I feel like this, by the way. –>

 

 

Yeah, Tony kicked Chris Paul in the face. 

KOSTA KOUFOS WHAT?

Z-Bo just knows he’s killing it in Cali.

(NBA on ESPN)

(NBA on ESPN)

Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake made Memphians sob joyfully with his falsetto love letter to the Bluff City.

BZafZjfCAAAZExf.jpg-large

 

And he closed the show wearing his Grizz best.

 

 

 

 

And just like that, it’s full circle. Grizz and JT together at last. My goodness. I couldn’t love Memphis more. Here’s a little Chris Herrington gold.

BYqZkcaCEAAGXX1.jpg-large

(Choose901)

 

Go grab one of these, Grizz Nation.

 

 

You deserve it.

 

-Casey Black

Thoughts of a Grizz Fan During Opening Night

The Memphis Grizzlies fell to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night by a score of 101-94, extending an american professional sports record of losses in season opening games to 13. That is certainly not the kind of statistic you want to hear coming off the franchise’s most successful season, but it was just one game (as Nick Saban would tell you).

Seriously, that guy gets way too heated, even after a win.

It will be a long arduous road to the post season as it always is….Nothing has changed….Well some things have changed.  Dave Joerger is the new sheriff in town, Mike Miller has returned, and even the food at FedEx Forum is different. The well known core of Conley, Allen, Randolph, and Gasol remains intact (although it appears Rudy Gay’s retina was not until recently….), and the goal remains a shot at the title. Enough pondering, here are some of my thoughts (and I’m sure your’s too) as key moments unfolded:

Five Minutes Before Tip Off: I’ve successfully found a good link online to stream the game….with Pete Pranica and Sean Tuohy none the less……where’s Brev?

Tip-Off, First Quarter Begins

12:00 1Q: Marc secures the tip, Conley scores a mere 16 seconds into the game. The        Dave JoergerBomb Era is an instant success! Lionel who?i(Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

5:39 1Q: Mike Miller returns to the court in a Grizzlies uniform. Memphians shed a collective tear…

5:05 1Q: Marc Gasol bear claws a defensive rebound, outlet pass to Bayless, who dishes to Miller for 3!!!  Grizz up 14-9. IT’S MILLER TIME!

End of First Quarter: Grizzlies lead 20-18. Shooting a pedestrian 32 percent from the field and Prince leads in scoring with 7. The up tempo offense is smoking its going so fast….

Second Quarter

11:25 2Q: Quincy knocks down two free throws, doing his best to match Prince and earn a starting role. Grizz lead 22-18

11:10 2Q: Marco Belinelli knocks down a 22-footer, Grizz lead cut to two

10:44 2Q: Matt Bonner drills a 3, pulling the Spurs ahead by one. I hate Matt Bonner’s       shooting form like Happy Gilmore hates the Clown.

9:56 2Q: Ginobili gets in on the action and gives the spurs a 3 point lead,  25-22.

Joerger calls for time. Good decision, wouldn’t want them to go on a long run…

9:23 2Q: Patty Mills drains a three pointer, 28-22, this looks all too familiar.

7:52 2Q: Another Mills three is followed by a Jeff Ayres dunk 33-22 (Who??)

Alright boys, pull it together.

4:37 2Q: A Danny Green shot extends the lead to 18, and the Spurs have scored 22 unanswered points. This is a nightmare, game one of the WCF all over again. Someone get Lionel on the phone.

3:45 2Q: TONY ALLEN FOR THREE!! Ending the drought and bringing the score to 40-25 spurs.

End of Second Quarter: Well, that was about as bad as any NBA 2K disaster you’ve ever had, a 7 point quarter.  Blame the owners!

Third Quarter

10:49 3Q: Conley then Prince score, 48-31 Spurs. Popovich calls for time, overwhelmed by the damage of a 4-0 Grizz run.

i-1(Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

Fast Forwarding to 3:39 3Q: A line-up of Bayless, Pondexter, Miller, Leur, and Koufus graces the court. Grizz trail 64-46…at least our score is made up of the same numbers…

2:08 3Q: Koufus asserts his will, scoring a basket plus a foul shot, 68-51.

0:03 3Q: Bayless finishes off a solid run with the group on the court, cutting the deficit to 14 and the Spurs leading 72-58. Miraculously, we are in the game. Believe Memphis.

4th Quarter

10:08 4Q: Quincy misses a much needed three, and the refs award San Antonio the ball. TA lobbies the ref, explaining there is no way he touched the ball. A second official races in, fearing for his co-worker’s life. A crisis is averted, and the Grizzlies are given the ball upon further discussion.

8:07 4Q: Conley, Tony, then Koufus all take turns making a pair of baskets. Spurs lead 79-70.  Don’t you smell it? We’re within single digits.

7:37 4Q: Tony gets another 3 to go, Grizz trail by 7, 80-73.

5:00 4Q: TONY ALLEN FOR 3! 88-82. TA is 3/3 from 3’s this year after going 3/24 all of         last regular season.

1:59 4Q: Parker assists Diaw for a lay in, capping a 13-4 run, Spurs in control 101-86.

0:02 4Q: Miller hits another 3 for good measure

END OF GAME: Spurs 101 Grizzlies 94.

There are no moral victories when it comes to the Spurs. They dominate the all-time series thanks to a Hall-of-Fame trio. The Grizzlies seemed to have exorcized many demons in recent years, but Wednesday night displayed how the Spurs refuse to let up on the gas. It was extremely painful for a long stretch, but the team fought, as it always does. The bench got the team back in the game, and we outscored the Spurs in 3 out of 4 quarters. For now, the Spurs lead the season series, but the Grindhouse and Grizz Nation await November 22nd, when the two renew the rivalry with a Friday night showdown, televised by ESPN.

-Travis Nauert