Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Post Game Thoughts - Cleveland

Well another close game, this time making it to OT, but the same result. When the game is on the line you can expect Memphis to lose. It is painful to say that but just the same it is true. You can feel it in the stands during the game, an almost fatalistic plea to win the game only to see the team fail in the crunch. If you can take a positive out of this game it is that the team isn't quitting and that drive will produce results at some point as long as the team keeps fighting. The talent is there but the ability to put it together in crunch time is still missing.

Pau Gasol had a decent game fighting against not just one big but two and outplaying them both but he was alone in fighting in the paint and it wore him down. Logging 45 minutes against Ilgauskas, Varejao and Gooden will do that to anyone. Darko Milicic only played 5+ minutes and had his leg wrapped the entire second half and without his bulk Memphis was killed on the boards against one of the best rebounding teams in the league. Despite Milicic's lack of PT Stromile Swift never left the bench again. It makes you wonder just how deep in the doghouse he has fallen. Gasol was effective on offense whenever he touched the ball but the double teaming made it difficult to be the offensive force he has been.

Rudy Gay broke 30 points on the night but was silent after hitting a big three with time left in the fourth. Memphis rode his shooting to get back in the game but he looked tired as well after logging 47+ minutes. Mike Miller struggled offensively all night but having to guard LeBron James for 48 minutes will do that. He tried hard but couldn't stop LeBron who scored 51 points on 18-28 shooting. Juan Carlos Navarro picked up the slack for Milicic's absence and hit some key shots but also was the defensive victim of Damon Jones's clutch three to put Cleveland ahead for good in OT.

The refs were a joke but can't be blamed for the outcome. They allowed Ilgauskas to basically play like a pulling guard on high screens and push (or shove) players at will but until the Grizzlies prove they can win in spite of the refs you can't expect them to bail you out. They let the game play physical and that benefited the Cavs. Memphis has to start making the plays and stop looking to the refs to bail them out even when they are fouled. Until that happens the refs won't see what everyone else thinks is so obvious. I'm not saying the referees were close minded but LeBron got to the line 16 times. The Grizzlies as a team got to the line 18 times. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is a little out of whack.

The game was entertaining and thrilling and even if the Grizzlies lost it was definitely worth the price of admission. It was so quiet in the first half I could harass Damon Jones about his smurf-like hair cut and not only did he hear me but I heard his retort although I doubt he was serious when he said the girls love it. Maybe he meant his daughter and her friends because no adult woman could look at that head and not laugh. Memphis needs to get the fans back into the game and the best way to do that is to start winning games. Until then it will be difficult to take solace in close losses.

Former Cav player Mike Sanders was scouting the game for the Bobcats tonight and he sat right in front of me. He was very gracious and it was interesting to watch him diagram our plays and take notes of our tendencies. If the Bobcats look prepared for the Grizzlies you know who to blame now for the scouting report.

From Zack

Went to the game tonight, sat in what are some of my favorite seats, Row A in the Upper Tier. Great view of the court.

It was an exciting game, despite the painfully obvious crunch-time loss. Even further than the fact that a typical Griz fan expects to lose when the game is essentially tied at the 1 minute mark, a typical Griz fan also knows that going to OT is not an acceptable option at the end of regulation. OT = Loss. I can't remember the last OT win in the Forum. I'm sure there has been a couple here and there that I am forgetting, but overwhelmingly if we are going to OT, it is just going to be another loss.

Enough about how the Grizzlies can never pull out close games. Here is what I am thinking about right now when I think back to the game and what plays or players made an impression on me.

-- What an electrifying dunk Rudy had (see below). It was off a nicely anticipated half-court steal. Rudy's arm got a good 3 feet above the rim. Please let Rudy make the dunk contest. Take a look for yourself thanks to Getty.

-- Rudy's dunk wasn't the only highlight reel dunk of the night. Hak put one down on the other end of the court (i.e., in the 1st half) and we as beyond the block in the short corner. He had to jump over a couple of players that fell down (probably off a Mike Miller jump pass or something) and Hak did that go-g- gadget-arm-extending thing. It was pretty awesome.

-- Navarro played a great game. I don't think any shot is a bad shot for him. When he is on the court, I just want him to shoot as much as possible, particularly early in the shot clock. He finished with 47 minutes and started the 2nd half in front of Darko. He was 9 for 16 from the field. I'll take that. The last 3-pointer that JC had which tied the game (see below) was a riveting play to watch develop. From my view he was leaning pretty hard to the left to get the shot off, with Damon Jones and LeBron chasing him. here is the Getty Image of the play.

-- Overall, I was pleased with Pau's crunch time play with a couple of big blocks and a few big shots. but I hated his weak-sauce play fumbling the ball when he got the offensive rebound off of a short 3-pointer. I also hate it that I remember those couple of weak plays by Pau over his numerous good plays whenever I go to games at the Forum.

-- Conley was a terrific tonight. He had a good sense of where to direct the ball on offense, some quick slicing drives, 2-3 from deep, and a couple of great steals. Although to be fair, tonight might have been his most turnovers in a single game (to go along with what I'm assuming to be a season high in points). It was an up and down game and I don't mind those turnovers. I really like the Conley-Lowry combo at PG. The scaled back minutes have helped Lowry be a better compliment to Conley. The two of them always give us the speed dimension in transition.

-- Miller played his heart out against LeBron. All the respect for how hard Miller tried to stop LeBron from scoring 50+. LeBron is just pretty damn good. I would hope that Bobby Jones can come in for a few more minutes or in certain situations to relive Miller from having to chase LeBron down for 48 minutes. Or maybe put Rudy on LeBron more in the 2nd half. Running Miller to death on defense negatively affects his offensive game.

-- Rudy is a freaking stud. He might still have a long way to go to be the star we all hope he will become, but he is a special player. Rudy is the player on our team I feel most comfortable with taking shots the important shots, the shots at the end of the shot clock when all went south, the shots that end scoring droughts, the shots that win games. He was 12 for 22 from the field (3-6 beyond the arc) and had the most shot attempts on the team. And I wouldn't be upset if he got even more shot attempts. I know it sounds crazy to think that he should be shooting, say 25 or 30, times in a game, but if he did I think it would likely benefit the Griz, much like LeBron being a ball hog benefited the Cavs tonight.

Go read Brian Windhorst's game recap up on Ohio.com. Here is a good bullet he writes about Mike Miller guarding LeBron:

–Can’t believe the Grizzlies decided to let Mike Miller basically play LeBron James alone on a island for much of the night. Sometimes they double teamed but most of the time they left those two alone. Thus, LeBron puts in 51. You won’t see that again for awhile unless it’s Bruce Bowen. Miller was just disheartened by the end and the late doubles Memphis did bring only meant fouls and easy passes to open teammates. Meanwhile Marc Iavaroni says: “I thought our defense improved.”

Also, when Big Z got fouled in the 3rd quarter, sitting in the stands we thought something was funny. I'll let Brian explain:

–Funny moment in the third quarter. Zydrunas Ilgauskas got fouled and made the shot, which the officials waved off but still gave Z two shots. Which didn’t make sense. Mike Brown calls LeBron over and LeBron tells him: “They say he doesn’t get the basket because he traveled but they are still giving him the two shots. I’ve never heard that rule before in my life, but we’re going to roll with it, coach.”

Spartacus Says:

That is all.


New_sacred_cow said...

its beginning to look like we finally have a core of players to build on better in the offseason. I say the core of Pau, Gay, Conley, Lowry, Navarro, and Miller is nice. We just need a better bench. I wouldnt mind even keeping Jones for Defense.

zack said...

Rudy just has to be in the dunk contest, right?

ChipC3 said...

In regards to the situation where Ilgauskas was fouled, made a basket that was disallowed and still given two shots here is the official response from Ronnie Nunn.

"this is a judgment call from what you appear to be describing.

If a player is fouled during a "continuation " sequence, and upon being fouled , he travels because of the contact and converts a basket, the basket cannot be allowed since a violation ( the travel) aided him in illegally scoring his goal.
Therefore, he will be credited with a "continuation" attempt and shoot the 2 ffree throws that a "contination" affords him."

That clears up what was a particularly confusing play in the game.