The Day Late Weekend Grind: The Austin Daye Weekend
What a difference a few days make. When I posted the Weekly Grind on Friday, the Grizz were in the middle of ugly tailspin, losing 3 out of 4 games since the Rudy Gay trade while looking disinterested, lazy, and shell-shocked. Three days later and the mood around the team has done a complete 180. A lot of this change was due to the surprising play of Austin Daye. Daye, who I don't think had scored 20 points all season (EDITOR'S NOTE: Daye had 126 points coming into Friday's game) wrapped up the two game weekend with 28 points on 10-15 shooting, including 5-8 from 3 point range. He was seen by most Grizz fans (and probably management) as a throw-in piece of the Gay trade, there only to make the money work. But if he can keep up this outside shooting for a team that's been dying for it for two and a half years, he can end up being quite the steal.
Friday v. Golden State - Damn, Steph Curry can shoot. Like really, really shoot. His shot is thing of beauty that I could watch over and over even if it's against my team. He lit the Grizz up, finishing with 32 points on 11-22 shooting. His play wasn't enough though as Memphis got a much needed victory 99-93. It's hard to call a game in early February a must-win but with the negativity and general malaise surround the team of late, this was one the Grizz had to have. They jumped out early thanks to some contributions from a couple of unexpected sources. Jerryd Bayless continued his hot shooting but during a 3 minute 36 second period from the end of the 1st quarter through the beginning of the 2nd, forward Austin Day scored 12 of the Grizzlies' 14 points on three 3-pointers and a driving and-1 floater. These were Daye's only points of the game but they provided a huge spark off the bench.
In my Friday preview, I talked about the David Lee - Zach Randolph match-up being the one to watch. Lee looked to have gotten the better of things early with 20 points in the first half but he was limited late, only scoring 6 points the rest of the way. Z-Bo outworked Lee down the stretch, killing him on the boards (12-6) and getting a clutch putback late in the game.
Even with the play of Randolph and Daye, the player of the game was Marc Gasol. After knocking down a game-sealing jumper with 33 seconds left, Gasol finished with 20 points,10 boards, and 5 assists, including a 2 offensive rebound, diving-out-of-bounds save, and barreling-across-the-lane hook shot sequence that defines the mantra of "Grit and Grind". It was just a spectacular game from Gasol, who had been in a bit of a funk recently.
Sunday v. Minnesota - This game should shut up the Rudy Gay trade detractors for a few days. Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, and Ed Davis combined for 38 points on 16-20 shooting, including a perfect 8-8 for Prince, two more 3's from Daye, and a hammertime bam-bam all over some foreign white dude by Ed Davis. The main story from this game though was the increased ball movement. Many around the team had hoped dealing the iso-dependent ball-stopper for some more efficient players would result in better movement and spacing. This game gave a great look at what could develop. 30 of 41 made baskets were assisted with Conley and Gasol both dropping 8 dimes and Tony Allen, Bayless, and Wroten (WROTEN!!!) adding three each.
Memphis also got some more good news with the return of Quincy Pondexter, who has been out 22 games with a knee injury. He only played a few minutes and his one shot was off by about a foot, but Q-Pon's return will give the Grizz even more options with their rotation.
For the record, Minnesota is really, really bad. It's not their fault...they've been decimated by injuries...but goddamn they suck.
Best Grizzlies Tweet of the Weekend Not from @HydeParkSwag
You kind of needed to be in the arena to really get this one. Let's just say the Dance Cam got quite interesting...
@peteredmiston - Hey, Griz fans, did you want to see a shirtless guy smear sauce on himself and shake his ass? Hope you did.
Best Grizzlies Tweet of the Weekend from @HydeParkSwag
I really hate Joey Crawford...
@HydeParkSwag - Joey Crawford can suck my short white dick.
Best Grizzlies Article of the Weekend Not From This Site
Shaun Powell of Sports on Earth has and excellent article/interview with Tony Allen on how he became the best perimeter defender in the league. Check it out here.
Preview for the Week
Tuesday v. Sacramento - Tonight is the Grizzlies last game before heading into the All-Star break. The Grizz have already beaten the Kings twice pretty handily but Sacramento has played well over the weekend, going 2 for 2 in a back to back against Utah and Houston. The match-up to watch will be Demarcus Cousins versus sanity. Boogie can play but the guy is freaking nuts. Z-Bo didn't play in the last game against the Kings because of a back injury so his match-up against the psycho should be entertaining. The February schedule lightens up quite a bit for Memphis so a win tonight could set them up for a nice run coming out of the All-Star break.
-I mentioned earlier that the Grizzlies ball movement had been much improved since the trade but @peteredmiston and @PetePranica tweeted out some stats Sunday night and Monday morning showing just how greatly it has improved. 121 of 186 made FGs (65%) in the last 5 games have been assisted. That's 4th in the NBA. The team was 25th in the league before the trade. Most of that improvement has come from mid-range. The assist rate for mid-range basket is up from 58% pre-trade to 72% in the last 5 games. FG percentage from that area has gone up to 42% from 39%.
-The famous disappointed Tayshaun Prince fan from Detroit got a nice little gift from the Commercial Appeal and the Grizzlies. They organized a trip for the guy, his wife, and their infant son to Memphis to check out Sunday's game and for a face to face meeting with Prince. You can read more about it here.
-Tony Allen provided one of the most mind-bogglingly stupid sequences of basketball I've ever seen during the Warriors game. With 29 seconds left and Memphis up 5, Allen went to the line for two free throws to ice the game. He proceeded to miss both shots (shit), grab the offensive rebound (YES!!), immediately drive thru the lane (oh God...), get called for an offensive foul (F*CK!!!!!), and foul out of the game. Luckily it didn't matter, but TA did his best to give me a heart attack.
I love that guy.