It was quite the week in the Grind City, as the under-staffed Memphis Grizzlies took down the mighty Golden State Warriors with ease and Marc Gasol won the NBA's Western Conference Player of the Week award for the second time in his career.
On Saturday, the Warriors brought their league-best record into the Grindhouse not knowing what exactly to expect. Several of the familiar faces and expected rotation pieces (the 153-million dollar man Mike Conley, oft-injured Chandler Parsons and Brandan Wright, the resurgent Vince Carter, and James Ennis) were out with injuries, while Troy Williams, Andrew Harrison, Troy Daniels, and Toney Douglas were all expected to play significant minutes.
It was a potential recipe for disaster for Memphis, as they stared down a date with the four-headed Golden State monster, followed by back-to-back matchups with LeBron James’ Cavaliers. But, in typical Grizzlies fashion, Memphis dismantled the Warriors 110-89 in a game that was never really close. Other than Kevin Durant, none of the starters were able to find their shooting stroke.
The streaking Grizzlies have now won a current league-best six games in a row, the previous five of which had been won by a combined 12 points against the Magic, Lakers, Pelicans, Sixers, and Blazers, not exactly a murderers row.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson each shot 4-14 overall. Steph was 3-11 from behind the arc, while Klay only attempted three three-pointers, missing them all. Anderson Varejao started at center in place of the injured Zaza Pachulia and produced just about what you would expect from him at this point. David West and hometown Ian Clark had nice games off the bench, but usual bench lynchpin Andre Iguodala was also out.
Meanwhile, Seven Grizzlies players scored in double-figures. JaMychal Green grabbed a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards. Andrew Harrison continued to prove himself as a steady point guard fill-in for Conley, much to my and several other people’s surprise. Jarrell Martin and Zach Randolph went to work in the post. Tony Allen scored an efficient 19 points and snarled around the court like a Rottweiler. Troy Williams erased Steph Curry from both the boxscore and the face of the planet. And Marc Gasol, in a Player-of-the-Week clinching performance, turned in a stat line of 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and a steal as the focal point of both the offense and the defense.
In the win over the Pelicans, Gasol posted a triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. Against the Sixers, he notched 26 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. And versus the Blazers, he poured in 36 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Somehow, despite the injuries and the reliance on under-appreciated or forgotten about players and the continued too-close-for-comfort games against lesser teams, the Grizzlies keep winning.
In “super-clutch” games (games where the margin is three points or less at any time in the last minute of regulation or overtime) this year, the Grizzlies are un unreal 12-0. To sustain that mark would be unprecedented, but at this point, I almost feel comfortable anytime Memphis heads into a close late-game situation. I almost expect them to win.
And it seems like the players expect to win.
With Conley out for the foreseeable future, it’s good that the Grizzlies are banking in all of these wins. They’ll need to continue like this to stay alive in the race for a top-four spot out West.