Court Vision: Gasol’s 26 powers Grizzlies past Raptors
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The last time the teams met, five Grizzlies were more concerned with the toilet than Toronto. Stomach bugs gone, Memphis avenged that loss with Wednesday’s 92-86 win. The Grizzlies (30-12) host Philadelphia Saturday.
1. TO BORROW FROM KEVIN MCALLISTER, THAT FIRST QUARTER: WOOF
The first quarter was one to use a "Men In Black" mind eraser thingy on.
Tied at 16, the Raptors made 5 of 18 shots, a paltry 29.4 percent. The Grizzlies shot 38.9 percent, making 7 of 18.
Toronto shot .318 for the game, the lowest of any Grizzlies opponent this season.
How bad was it? So bad it rubbed off on the fans. One poor soul, who obviously did not sleep in a Holiday Inn Express the night before, had a worse night. In the Tony Allen Challenge in-game entertainment, Grizzlies forward Allen challenged the fan to say the ABCs backwards. When he couldn’t (sure sounded like he put X before Y), he was asked to say the ABCs in order. That was going good until he put Y before X.
But he has a backer in Grizzlies PG Mike Conley, a guy who can speak to the spotlight.
"It’s very tough," Conley said. "People aren’t always built for that, when the lights are on and they ask you an easy question, that if you’re in the stands looking, ‘I know that.’ But if you’re the guy they’re asking, it can be tough."
Memphis mascot, Grizz, likes to throw cakes in the faces of faux opponent fans during scripted breaks. Let’s hope, for that guy’s sake, that was off a script, a very funny, I-did-that-on-purpose. I-really-do-know-X-comes-before-Y, script.
2. LOWRY’S TORCH NOT HOT ENOUGH AGAINST FORMER TEAM
Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry likes torching the Grizzlies. The former Memphis first-round pick was benched by a developing Conley and traded by the Grizzlies in 2009.
Lowry has turned into a likely all-star for the Raptors (27-15), averaging career-bests 19 points, 7.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game this season.
In his last three games against the Grizzlies, he averaged more than 20 points and more than eight assists per game. His bad start Wednesday got better. Before leaving the first quarter with a dislocated ring finger on his shooting hand, Lowry was 0 for 2 from the field and 0 for 2 from the free throw line.
He returned in the second quarter and finished with 20 points and three assists in 40 minutes. He did have eight rebounds, but shot 7 for 23 from the field, 2 for 8 from deep, notably defended by Allen.
Lowry rushed to the locker room and popped his own finger back into place.
"It hurts really bad. Really, really bad," Lowry said. "But it’s no excuses. I’m not gonna complain about it, not gonna worry about it."
It should be noted that Lowry scored 12 in the fourth quarter, with Allen on the bench.
And he got got by Grizzlies backup point guard Nick Calathes biting on a fake for a layup in the fourth quarter.
His bad start Wednesday got better, but for measure, Conley’s season averages: 18.1 ppg. 6.0. apg and 3.5 rpg. Against the West.
3. WHY MESS WITH A GOOD THING?
Credit Memphis Sports 56 Middays host Greg Gaston with this. Recently acquired Jeff Green started his first game for the Grizzlies after coming off the bench in his first four.
Courtney Lee came off the bench for only the third time this season.
The Grizzlies were 3-1 in four games since acquiring Green and he and starter Lee had both flourished. Both scored in double figures each game, a combined 122 points (63 for Lee and 59 for Green).
Wednesday, they scored a combined seven points, Lee’s lone point not coming until a free throw with 16.7 seconds to play. Lee played 2 minutes, 34 seconds more than Green and they combined for two assists and five rebounds.
"I’ll probably be changing it ongoing, then at some point I think it’s better to marry something than to keep dancing around," Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. "When you do it (laughs), you certainly lend yourself to second guessing on a nightly basis."
Joerger isn’t afraid to mess with lineups and he said so himself. Bigs Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph ease the fear, Wednesday a combined 55 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks.
21 — Toronto had 21 offensive rebounds and had 20 second-chance points. Only three of the rebounds came in the fourth quarter.
14.3 percent — The Grizzlies took seven 3-pointers and made only one, from Conley.
1 Gasol jersey — The Grizzlies honor soldiers at each home game. Wednesday, it was double amputee Sgt. Jason Smith, who lost both legs via an IED in Afghanistan. After the game, Gasol greeted him and gave him his jersey.