Thursday, March 20, 2008

Postgame Thoughts: Memphis at Minnesota - 3.19.08

This game was like a heavywieght title bout between two fighters both represented by Don King.

Memphis and Minnesota fought the good fight and both teams exerted a lot of effort in the game. Unfortunately for Minnesota they just came up a bit short in the end. No Memphis didn't win the game. Memphis won the all important position battle for the ping pong balls in the Western Conference.

Memphis started out looking like a team that didn't care about the battle for the top position in the lottery. The Grizzlies opened the game on fire with Mike Miller scoring 10 points, Rudy Gay adding 6 and Juan Carlos Navarro chipping in with 5 pts as the Grizzlies built a 28-23 lead after one quarter. The second quarter was even worse for Grizz fans as the 2nd unit continued to show no concern for standings and the long term benefit of the franchise as their selfish play created a seemingly insurmountable hole with the Grizzlies leading 52-38. Minnesota was on top of their game in that quarter as the TWolves managed to score a mere 15 points and ended the half with 38 points against one of the worst defensive teams in the league.

It must have been a stirring half time speach by Marc Iavaroni that woke up the team. The Grizzlies came out of halftime and their lackluster play and poor shot selection created a nice 17-5 run by Minnesota to tie the game at 57. This has been the type of play Grizz fans have come to expect from a team competing for the top spot in the lottery for the 2nd consecutive year. Darco Milicic, taking one for the team, re-injured his left hand allowing the Grizzlies interior defense to completely disappear. After Milicic held Al Jefferson to only 7 pts in the first half the combination of Jason Collins, Hakim Warrick and yes even Kwame Brown helped insure the TWolves would have no trouble getting the ball to Jefferson and that Big Al would be completely unable to miss the shot by allowing repeated uncontested dunks.

Minnesota appeared to wake up to this threat once the score was tied. Suddenly Memphis was getting the uncontested shots while Minnesota went cold and Memphis ended the quarter on a miserable 11-5 run to fall into a 6 pt hole (i.e. lead) with one quarter to play. Memphis did manage to score only 16 points in the third quarter despite the weak play at the end. The Grizzlies came out fighting in the fourth giving up open shots and when Minnesota wouldn't take them, picking up illegal defense calls to force the TWolves to the line. The game progressed with both teams really expending a lot of energy to insure the loss.

Speaking of the line, that is where Memphis really showed their strength. The Twolves shot an embarrassing 82.9% from the line while Memphis was deadly hitting 63.6% to overcome the huge deficit they put themselves in from the floor shooting 41.5% compared to Minnesota's shot 39.3%. Both teams were doing their best from the 3 pt line with Memphis winning the battle 22.7% to 27.3% for the TWolves.

So Memphis worked hard, very hard in fact, and got the result that was best for the team. They didn't want to lose the game, they didn't try to lose the game (unlike Miami which put up 54 pts against Toronto last night...for the game) but the loss is better for the team's chances of getting a difference maker in the draft.

Probably the most encouraging thing from last night's game is the realization that two of the TWolves top three scorers were players drafted by current Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace while he was in Boston. The most depressing thing was not getting any shots of Marco Jaric's girlfriend in the crowd.

BallHype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

Nice Recap.

August West said...

excellent job on the recap, and yes - we were all shnided by no Lima Time!

Spartacus said...

Am I the only one who is completely disheartened by the fact that the Houston Rockets just won more games consecutively than either of these teams will win all season?