While everyone was out celebrating the season, bemoaning the state of the franchise or both, the team went down to Orlando (with the real SOB who outbid me for the fan's fantasy trips) and took it on the chin from Dwight Howard but still stood toe to toe with the Magic and ended up being the last team standing.
Rudy Gay is not too bad for those that didn't realize it yet. A career high 32 points that included a few highlight dunks, some serious post up moves (including one where he jumped up facing the Grizzlies bench and after reaching the top of his jump calmly turned in midair and drained the jump shot) and a big 3 pt shot in the final four minutes. He was simply unstoppable.
Mike Miller was Mike Miller. Big early offensively and then disappearing late but he made a huge defensive stop on Dwight Howard late, doubling down and blocking the shot plus getting the rebound. That play really turned the tide of the game.
Juan Carlos Navarro refound his shot and made two huge three point shots in the final minutes to put the team ahead and then made all of the free throws down the stretch to put the game away. Great game by the player known as 'Instant Grits' on the team.
And I haven't mentioned the player of the game yet! Andre Brown. Yes Andre Brown. The player I said was on the team because he understood he wasn't going to play and was still happy about his role. The man who I once wrote "if Andre is in the game in the 4th quarter then the Grizz have already lost" was a major force preventing Dwight Howard from getting 50 pts and 40 boards. His hustle and defense was huge and with Darko and Swift battling foul trouble the whole game he simply refused to allow the team to lose. I don't know if there is room on his body for another tattoo but he should try and find a place to put today's date. He was that important.
Damon and Kyle was good tonight. Not great but good is a huge improvement over the play of our point guards lately. Maybe it is Michael Conley's presence in practice that has them improving their play or maybe it was Jameer Nelson's lack of size but they both scored in double figures and only had two turnovers between them.
But how did the Grizz win the game when Howard was so dominant, Hedo Turkoglu was scoring well both on the perimeter and in the paint and Jameer Nelson went for 18 and 8 assists? The team won because they hit their shots. After going 11 minutes without hitting a shot against the Clippers the night before Memphis shot 52.9% from the field, made 12 three pt shots and scored 68 second half points. Yes that is nearly as much as they scored in the entire game against Atlanta just a week ago.
Now Memphis comes home for 6 of the next 7 games. Sure the competition will be tough but the team has something positive to come home with and it is the holiday season. Maybe they can ask for contagious confidence for an early Christmas present.
Third Quarter Collapse
Orlando Sentinel: Darko's Confidence Runs Low
Saturday, December 15, 2007