This was supposed to be the toughest stretch of the season for the Grizzlies.  Four road games in five days.  Two back-to-backs all against teams fighting for a playoff spot at places Memphis has historically played terribly.  So far, things have gone a little better than expected.  Two games, two wins including a fairly dominating performance over the team the Grizz were (at the time) chasing in the standings.  There are still two games left, but, at least on some levels, this trip can already be considered a success.

The Games

Tuesday @ Portland- After missing the previous 4 games, Zach Randolph looked like he hadn’t missed a minute, putting up 19 points and 10 boards in just 28 minutes.  The game was a struggle the whole way as Portland refused to go away.  Lamarcus Aldridge showed why he’s always in the all-star discussion by putting up 28-10 and Rookie of the Year shoe-in Damian Lillard also had 30.  But the rest of the Blazers were pretty much worthless.  After allowing Wesley Matthews to score 21 earlier this season, Tony Allen has made it his mission to destroy Matthews.  In the two games games this month, Matthews is a combined 7 of 21 from the floor. Nut-Puncher Batum has been even worse.  In 41 minutes, he just managed to get off 5 shots, missing all of them.  While Mike Conley struggled from the field for most of the game, he was dynamite in the 4th quarter, scoring 12 points and dropping 4 dimes.  He finished with 14, 4 steals, and a career high 15 assists.  For the record, the Rose Garden is an incredible environment. The Blazers fans stayed engaged the whole game and were deafeningly loud during their 4th quarter comeback until Tayshaun Prince dropped a dagger corner three and had those hippies crying patchouli laced tears into their (delicious) craft beers.

Wednesday @ Clippers- One of the common themes from the detractors of the Davis-Prince-Daye trade (which is how that event will be referred to in this space from now on) was Tayshaun Prince’s age.  He’s 137 years old.  He hasn’t just lost a step, he’s lost three…  Welp, the senior citizen made the Clippers and especially Matt Barnes his bitch all night.  Prince was 9-15 from the floor for 18 points, including 10 of the team’s first 12 points.  He started off by killing Barnes with mid-range jumpers and when Barnes tried to tighten things up…well…this happened (nice help D Jamal Crawford)…

 

Mike Conley continued his streak of great play with his second straight double-double (17 points, 11 assists) and Marc Gasol put up 21 to lead the team in scoring.  The story, as usual with this team, was the defense.  After giving up 52 points in the first half, Memphis went in to lockdown mode.  LA scored 33 points in the second half on 12-35 shooting.  Jamal Crawford was an especially putrid 1 of 10.

Oh…to just give a brief summary of Grizzlies fans’ feelings toward Chris Paul…

Grizzlies Tweet of the Week Not from @HydeParkSwag

Seriously…go to hell, TJ Simers.

 

Grizzlies Article of the Week Not from this Blog

Kevin Arnovitz of True Hoop has an excellent piece about the Grizzlies’ offense with the new roster.  Check it out here.

 

Awesome Grizzlies Fan Video Every Fan Should Watch

@KateeForbis, a blogger for Three Shades of Blue, put together this spectacular video.  She’s a must follow on Twitter for an Grizzlies fan.

 

 

Grizzlies Tweet of The Week from @HydeParkSwag

 

Yeah…Grizzlies fans really, really hate Chris Paul.

A Look at the Standings

After their win Wednesday night, the Grizzlies moved a half game ahead of the Clippers (2 games in the loss column) for the 3 spot in the West and a 1.5 games ahead of the Nuggets (3 in the loss column).  They’re 3 games behind Oklahoma City for the 2 seed.

Weekend Preview

Friday @ Denver- The two hottest teams in the Western Conference.  Denver has won 10 straight, 14 in a row at home (they’re 29-3 at home for the season).  To say Memphis has had trouble at Denver would be a severe understatement.  The Grizzlies have only won 4 games there in franchise history, including a 99-94 loss December 14th that featured a Rudy Gay turnover down 1 with 11 seconds left and a Rudy Gay 3 point brick that would have tied it with 5 seconds left (Hope you’re enjoying that shit, Tornoto!!).  The Nuggets like to get in the passing lanes and run so one of the biggest keys to this game will be to protect the ball.  Limit the easy baskets.  Make this an ugly, physical matchup where they have to work for every single point. If this game is in the 80’s, it’s a good sign for Memphis.

And for the love of God put a body on Faried every time a shot goes up.  I don’t care if it’s a full court heave at the end of a quarter…box his ass out.

Saturday @ Utah- This Utah team is just not very good.  They’re 2-8 in their last 10 (see Brent Hubbs…it’s not that hard) including a 110-87 drubbing at the hands of the Thunder Wednesday night.  But they’ll be rested.  This is a schedule loss.  4th game in 5 nights, all on the road, and in Salt Lake City, a place the Grizz have historically struggled (I actually tweeted about them not winning in Utah since the Taft administration before I was reminded they’d already won there this season…on a back to back after playing Denver :brainfart:). The Jazz are similar to the Grizz on the offensive end in that they rely a lot on their deep front line. There is very little fall off from their starters, Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap, to their bench guys, Derrick Favors and Enis Canter.  The other side of the floor is a different story.  Their defense is uncharacteristically deplorable, especially against the high pick and roll.  Zach Lowe covered their deficiencies in a massive piece on Grantland earlier this week. If the Grizz want to pull this one out, they need to attack this weakness and get some contributions from a couple of unlikely sources.

 

Additional Notes

-With their win Wednesday, the Grizzlies improved to 19-11 on the road this season.  19 road victories is a franchise record.

-While Darrell Arthur is still listed as day-to-day, don’t expect him to play any this weekend as he continues to recover from that nasty fall against the Magic on March 3rd.

-With a jumper in the 1st quarter Wednesday, Tayshaun Prince scored his 10,000 career point, a milestone that went largely ignored outside of GrizzNation (although there were several league tweets congratulating Chris Paul for the same feat a few minutes later).