Sunday, October 21, 2007

Reflections on a Strange Pre-Season Game

Saturday night at the Forum the Memphis Grizzlies experimented with lineup combinations and gave their youngsters some experience against the Ft Wayne Heat, I mean Miami Heat. Seriously it felt at times like I was watching a ABA game more than an NBA game (and yes I am old enough to remember the ABA in Memphis but just barely).

The Grizzlies started the game playing great. Led by Rudy Gay and Stromile Swift the Grizzlies scored 40 points in the quarter and while surrendering 28 as well were in total control of the game. From that point on it was a nasty affair where Miami's development league players threw elbows, undercut drives and basically played as dirty as possible to discourage the Grizzlies.

Which brings up a common complaint of mine. The referees were terrible. It appeared two of the team were rookies. That should have been a bad sign to begin with. While I did recognize the senior official he is not someone I consider at the top of the class so pairing him with two officials without experience wasn't the best combination. One of the rookies had an expression similar to a deer in the headlights and the other made so many terrible calls that even Stromile Swift was rolling his eyes at times. Usually that happens when a player disagrees with a call. Rarely does it happen after the referee explained what he saw! That happened twice in this game. I mean I can understand a player in the heat of battle getting upset when a call goes against him but what would a referee have to say that would cause a player to double take his explanation?

Anyway, the game seemed to be something less than a normal preseason NBA game with a team on the court of players I didn't know. Quick trivia. Can you tell me the first names (and I will give you the first letter) of the five Heat players with the most time on the court? J. Anthony, B. Chase, J. Richardson, D. Cook and A. Johnson and the last player was not Avery Johnson!

It was slightly disappointing that the Grizzlies couldn't win by more than they did but the objective in this game was too avoid injury. After Casey Jacobsen received stitches in his head for apparently cutting his forehead open on wind, Rudy Gay was undercut on a drive and nearly flipped over and Juan Carlos Navarro was run over and left for dead without any calls being made you could see that the idea of running it up on this team wasn't as important as escaping without a hospital visit.

We didn't learn a lot about the team as a whole but I did like that fact that Navarro continued to take open shots even though he was having an off-night. We will need his scoring and it is difficult to score if you don't shoot. Rudy Gay was phenomenal. Tarence Kinsey had a good night in limited minutes showing his defensive skills and nice shot. Mike Miller had 11 pts, 6 boards and 4 assists on barely 20 minutes. If this had been a night like last season when he played 40 minutes routinely he would have been close to a triple double.

The biggest surprise may have been the point guard position in general. Damon, Kyle and Michael all played well and the position produced 13 pts, 11 assists, a steal and even a blocked shot (thanks for Conley's 41 inch vertical leap). With the players rotating in like they do it is difficult to make a big impact but so far the three headed PG position is looking pretty good.

On the bad side was Darko Milicic. While he made some nice moves and showed the range on one shot we were told he had, overall his game was disappointing and against less than quality opposition. At least he didn't get into foul trouble.

On the Side: I wonder if the poor officiating had anything to do with 6 referees being punished for for undisclosed reasons that may have had something to do with their being seen in casinos in Las Vegas.

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