Tonight, this is going to be short on substance. Look for more postgame impressions added in the morning.
--Tonight was a game of runs, with most of the scoring from both teams coming in bunches.
--Predictably, Kevin Martin had a big night....well, mostly 1st half. The Griz and Coach Iavaroni actually made some good half-time adjustments and kept Kmart in check in the 2nd half.
--Hak had a monster 2nd half, going nuts scoring and rebounding. Hak got the start to match the Kings size and keep Miller on Kmart as much as possible instead of Navarro. Although Hak couldn't make a shot in the 1st half, he kept at it and was clearly the difference maker tonight with his 2nd half play.
--The zone looked good tonight. Part of that, IMO, is that Hak and Navarro are good zone defenders who actually seem to have better defensive instincts when in a zone compared to man-to-man. Well, Navarro has good defensive instincts all the time, the zone just minimizes teams taking advantage of his size at SG. Hak was raised on the zone for 4 years in college. When we play zone, it should coincide to when Hak is on the court.
--Nice offensive balance tonight.
--Darko had hands made of Pre-Cambrian Granite tonight. In one sequence, he failed to catch like 3 or 4 straight passes. Can anyone tell me a center the Griz have had that actually had good, soft hands?
--The win snapped our 6 game losing streak. Much like last year, any win feels about 4 times better than it should. Even a win against the Kings at home.
--A few words about the Kings. I think they are better without Bibby and Artest on the floor. They should look to trade Bibby and Artest for a similar pu-pu platter of expiring contracts and draft picks that we got for Pau. It would be a better direction than keeping either of them around, IMO.
I love the smell of Nepalm in the morning. It smells like victory!
Tonight at times made me feel like Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now. A dominating single victory in the midst of losing a war. It was a great single game victory but the long term outcome for this season is already determined.
Hakim showed tonight that he can score in the NBA which he hasn't done since Pau left. It didn't hurt that Mikki Moore, who has to have the worst dreadlocks I have ever seen, seemed incapable of escaping the refs whistles. Was it just me or did Hakim actually trim his goutee?
Navarro has definately trimmed his smurk hair cut. I am sorry Juan Carlos but you look a lot better without the baby spiked hairdo. I think he found some maturity on the court when he got rid of the childish haircut personally. He also found his shot tonight and that made a huge difference in the game. Juan Carlos also appeared to have fun tonight. That too was missing since the trade of his buddy Gasol. I remember in particular one play when he just missed Hakim with a bounce pass in the lane that was tipped away at the last moment. He turned to the crowd and you could see just how close he thought that was with his expression. Is there another player in the league who expresses how happy he is playing basketball than Navarro? The bottom line tonight was that when Navarro in particular and Memphis as a whole hits their shots they play with any team in the league. When they don't...well they don't. Lately they haven't so tonight was a pleasant surprise.
Could it be the hair?
Speaking of surprises, Jason Collins did his best Ben Wallace imitation tonight from defending the paint like a beast, to missing free throws to his HAIR! My god Jason, you went to Stanford for goodness sake. You should know better than to go out in public like that.
Darko Milicic showed tonight what everyone has been talking about with him...and I mean everyone. He showed a nice offensive game, at times very offensive to the casual fan. He made some incredibly smart passes and some incredibly dumb turnovers. Basically he looked a lot like a 22 yr old kid who was still trying to figure out what he is capable of doing. Which of course is exactly what he is but I am still encouraged to wait and see what happens when he does figure it out. Darko's hair is starting to grow back from that freshman initiation hatchet job on his head too.
Maybe it is the hair.
It seems scary to think but Rudy Gay actually had an off night. Sure he scored 21 pts but he did so on 6-15 shooting while grabbing only 3 rebounds. The signature play of the game was when Rudy blocked John Salmons three point shot attempt near the end of the third quarter. He absolutely soared up to block the shot and the exploded down the court for a monster dunk! Of course he was fouled immediately after the block and the dunk didn't count but no one in the stands cared. It was a great play from a young man still learning what he is capable of doing in the NBA.
Brian Cardinal gave some impressive minutes tonight but had to make the bonehead play of the game too. Late in the game Sacramento scored a bucket and Artest stayed down low to do a mini-press on Conley. Apparently BC didn't realize it until after he started leaning into the court and you can guess what happened. Yes he stepped over the line before making the pass and the ref caught it. Talk about dumb.
There isn't a lot you can do with Cardinal's hair. It had to be the hair tonight.
The most encouraging thing I saw tonight was the attitude that this team isn't dead. It was as if the shock of the Gasol and Swift trades finally wore off and the team realized that this group of players was capable of winning without those two players. Memphis has a great assortment of young players still figuring out where they fit into the team and what it takes to win. They will have bad games but tonight showed what Wallace and Iavaroni want to develop. Given time I am optomistic that this group of players can develop into a fun team to watch.
Which only leaves the question "Who does their hair man?"