The current iteration of the Memphis Grizzlies have been around for a while now. One can reasonably point to their 2011 playoff run – an upset of San Antonio in the first round, a loss to Oklahoma City in the second – as a sign of things to come. Down early, the Mike Conley-Marc Gasol-Zach Randolph troika held their ground and delivered a monumental overtime win to take a 3-1 series lead.
The victory marked a demon exorcised by the Grizzly vets, memories of a triple-OT playoff loss to the Thunder in 2011 flashing back. But thanks to an incredible balance on offense (Conley finished with 24 points; Randolph and Gasol had 23 apiece) and incredibly defense (Tony Allen won the game with an overtime steal and Gasol said “f*ck an All-Defense team “ with six blocks), there was nothing Kevin Durant (27 points) could do. The Thunder actually led by 11 after the first quarter and 8 going into the half, but Memphis – under the calm hand of Lionel Collins, who has to be one the NBA’s best coaches right now – wouldn’t be deterred. Something tells me they won’t be when the series returns to Oklahoma.
Several quick thoughts on the Heat-Bulls game, which, with Miami winning 88-65, wasn’t very interesting:
– Miami continues to thrive on the best defense in the East. They weren’t about to let Nate Robinson punk them again: he finished with zero points on 0-12 shooting.
– The struggles of Dwyane Wade continue. He’s missing several steps and his jump shot continues to flicker, his performance hammering home how hurt he is. Needless to say, beating up on an under-handed Chicago squad is one thing but every possible team they play from here on out is more dangerous. For LeBron’s sake, that knee had better heal.
– Good (interesting, at least) to see Chris Andersen continue to make an impact off the bench. He led all Heat reserves with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 dunks. If, 10 years ago, you had predicted Birdman as a crucial member of a championship-caliber bench, I would have laughed at you. Not even for his sketchy demeanor (though that might have played a small part), but because this happened.