From Zack - Quick Thoughts
-- Surprisingly good game tonight by the Griz. Nice to get that first win on the road against the Pacers.
-- Conley started and looked poised on offense and defense. It was a very impressive starting debut.
-- A glimpse of the future Conley-Lowry PG combo was on display (I loved it), with Damon not playing at all and being in street clothes (I think). Which was odd since Lowry was reportedly under the weather.
-- Darko shot and made a right handed hook. Yes, you read that right.
-- Offensive rebounds kept Indiana in the game.
-- The offense was better, but the defense was even more improved. Held a Tinsley-less Pacers to 72 points on 30% shooting.
-- Pau, Gay, and Miller was the offensive force we need. 73 combined points.
-- In the end, Conley was clearly the story of the night.
Well, it has been obvious to most that Michael Conley was the best point guard on the team since preseason and he did nothing to disappoint me. Once he gets the nuances of when to score down, he will become very dangerous. Also, the team will look a lot better once they get used to having a point guard that they can let initiate the offense at all times.
Pau Gasol benefited so much from not having to facilitate for others and just being able to concentrate on scoring the ball. Still needs to get tougher on the defensive boards but that is really not going to happen at this point. He was The Spaniard tonight and I will take it every time.
Rudy Gay also benefited from the better offensive flow and was even better as a play maker.
I have the same gripe with Mike Miller. Shoot more Mike, please. There are no bad shots for Mike Miller just bad drives. He should really concentrate on spotting up from deep now and let Conley run the pick and roll.
Darko played good individual, interior defense again on Jermaine O'Neal. I still think he needs to lose weight to improve his rebounding range.
Damon in a suit means his time in Memphis is about over and just like I predicted, there will be a major (starter) trade before the MLK game.
The bad: rest of the team looked like crap with the exception of Lowry who was sick.
MemphisX advice: Be in the forum early on Sunday (3 pm tipoff) because that Pau Gasol action figurine wil be a collector's item.
Click here to read the postgame comments from the great Pacers blog, Indy Cornrows. A sample:
Indy's freshly sworn-in mayor, Greg Ballard was a guest of the Pacers tonight. Of the many issues that carried him to an unexpected victory was his promise to address a festering crime problem in several areas around the city. (Okay, are you finished with all of your Pacers off-court behavior jokes? Can I continue with this post? Thank you.)
Maybe Mayor Ballard should start at the Fieldhouse, because the basketball malfeasance he witnessed tonight during the Pacers' 90-72 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies should not be tolerated by the citizenry. The premeditated assault and battery on the helpless rims at the Fieldhouse with utter disregard for basic basketball principles like ball and player movement, making the extra pass, or shooting within the flow of the offense should be considererd felonious acts. Back up the paddy wagon to the locker room because everyone in blue and gold went wilding on the precious game we revere.
Additional Getty Magic (taken from here, click to see other great photos)
-Memphis finally got a chance to see the future PG of the franchise and he looked real good. Mike Conley's performance against the Pacers rivaled the performance he put on during the pre-season. Too bad Conley can't play every game against backup PG's in Indianapolis. The 7 pt, 6 rebound, 8 assists and 3 steals were one heck of a coming out party in his first career start.
-Damon made an impact by his absence in two ways. First, suddenly, a team wasn't able to get into the lane with ease and Memphis' defense was much improved. I wonder if there is a connection? Second, Sitting at the end of the bench in a suit raised a lot of suspicion that a trade is in the works to me. Damon was inactive without any injury being reported so why else does a player go from starter to inactive?
-Pau Gasol wasn't double teamed by Indy. He punished the Pacers all night to the tune of 30 pts and 12 rebounds. Either that was the height of foolishness or Coach O (O'Brien that is) read the Grizzlies Message Board and figured Gasol wasn't any good anymore. Either way Gasol looked like a kid in a candy store (30 pts and 12 boards) and had a solid all around night. The only negative was missing that jump shot before half-time that could have given the Grizzlies the lead at halftime. Damn Spaniard can never be trusted to produce under pressure! Sure he carried the team on his back in the third period when it seemed no one else was scoring but Gasol but he still didn't hit that clutch shot in the closing seconds nor did he make a game winner. (that is satire by the way).
-The Grizzlies Big Three beat the entire Pacers team 73-72. Besides Gasol's 30, Rudy Gay scored 24 and Mike Miller chipped in 19 pts. That compensated for a bench that scored 5 points all night and looked terrible. Navarro may have played his worst game as a Grizzlies with 3 turnovers in only 8 minutes. Stro was terrible despite scoring all 5 of the bench points. Kyle Lowry may still be feeling the effects of the flu he had in San Antonio. The bench committed 8 of the 17 Grizzlies turnovers despite no one but Stro playing more than 14 minutes.
-Indiana threw Jermaine O'Neal, Ike Diogu and Jeff Foster at the Grizzlies but only scored 34 points in the paint. Was that because Andre Owens couldn't penetrate like Jamal Tinsley, Mike Conley was quick enough to cut off dribble penetration or the Ivory Towers were that effective on defense? Probably a combination of all three but forcing (or allowing) Indiana to shoot from the outside instead of getting into the paint was huge defensively in this game.
-The Grizzlies came out from halftime like a team on fire. I don't know if people realize it but Indiana scored 28 pts after halftime. 9 pts in the 4th quarter. The Grizzlies put up 28 pts in the third quarter alone.
-Is this the team Chris Wallace told us to be patient and wait to develop or was it a fluke? It is hard to not be cynical about this win honestly. Conley was in his hometown, Tinsley didn't play, the Grizzlies shot below 50% from the line, were outrebounded by 10 pts and committed 10 turnovers in the first half and only trailed by 1 pt! The Pacers continued to shoot from outside when the book says attack the middle against the Grizzlies.
I just didn't see Indiana attempt to score from inside that much so I believe it is more mirage than material. Still feels good to finally win at the Fieldhouse but the Grizzlies head to Boston for a different test. As good as this game makes Grizz fans feel it is a long year. The more important games are going to be Miami and the Lakers next week in Memphis. Stringing together some home wins against the likes of DWade and Kobe would go a long way in re-energizing the home crowds.
One suggestion Coach Iavaroni, let Mike Conley play in those games. The home fans deserve a chance to see him play in person.