It Ain’t Over til the Fat Lady Sings: Grizz vs. Warriors Recap

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On Monday, the Memphis Grizzlies headed to Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors for the last away game of the regular season. It was the 3rd stop on the road trip. There was a win in Utah against the Jazz on Friday and a loss against the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday. What would the game against Golden State yield? The Grizzlies had won 12 of the last 15 games against Golden State, and 5 of the last 6 in Oracle Arena before the start of Monday’s game. So, a win was possible. However, multiple injuries are plaguing the Grizzlies right now. Tony Allen didn’t make the road trip because he’s nursing a hamstring injury with an unknown return. Mike Conley is in a walking boot. Marc Gasol sustained an ankle injury during the Clippers game that sidelined him after just about 10 minutes of play, and Jeff Green has been dealing with back spasms for several games now. To add insult to injury (pun intended), though the Warriors lead their division, the conference, and the league, Coach Steve Kerr has no desire to rest his starters it appears.

The game tipped off at 9:30 p.m. CST, and the Grizzlies had a previously questionable Marc Gasol and Jeff Green in the starting line-up. Early on it looked as if it would be a long night. The Grizzlies were unfortunately being forced to play at the Warriors’ pace, which is uncomfortable for them at best. The Warriors capitalized off the Grizzlies’ turnovers early on. Again, defensive mishaps led to offensive missteps. At the end of the 1st quarter, the Grizzlies already appeared gassed as the Warriors led 36-21. The 2nd quarter didn’t go much better. For Klay Thompson, the basket seemed as wide as the ocean, as he scored 26 points in the 2nd quarter alone. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies didn’t have such luck on their end. The Warriors shot at almost 70% the first half; the Grizzlies shot just under 40% in the first half. To further put things into perspective, the Grizzlies scored 46 points in the first half.  Klay Thompson (37 pts) and Steph Curry (9 pts) alone combined for 46 of the Warriors’ 68 points in the first half. Oh, it was ugly.

The second half started with more of the same. The Grizzlies attempted to tighten up the defense, but offensively, they still struggled. Coach Joerger shuffled players in and out trying to find a formula to stop the hemorrhaging at least, but Coach Kerr seemed to stay committed to leaving either Thompson or Curry or Thompson and Curry in the game through the end of the 3rd quarter. The 4th quarter started with the Warriors at 93 and the Grizzlies at 66, a 27 point difference. The blowout was imminent.

Then, there was a shift in the atmosphere at Oracle. The tables turned a complete 180 degrees. The once dominant Warriors were being dominated by the Grizzlies. What was the difference? There was no more Thompson or Curry to save the day. There were no more banged up Grizzlies starters running with tired legs and exhausted minds. Coach Joerger emptied the Grizzlies bench, and the Grizzlies bench masterfully outscored the Warriors bench 41 to 18 in the 4th quarter. There was a point where the Grizzlies were down by as many as 32 points in the game. However, when the final buzzer sounded (or the fat lady sung), the Grizzlies only lost by 4 points.  FOUR. A game that was doomed from the start (according to many) was saved by a group of rookies that rarely see the floor period, let alone together. It is true that there are no moral victories, but it’s not every day that you see a group of rookies take on a group of veteran bench players and outscore them by 23 points. Yet it happened…on Monday night…in Oracle Arena.

Game Highs:

The Grizzlies bench scored 71 points to the Warriors’ 41 bench points. SEVENTY plus ONE.

Jordan Adams, rookie guard, led the Grizzlies with 19 points.

JaMychal Green, rookie forward, led the Grizzlies in rebounds, with 8.

Russ Smith and Jarnell Stokes played only 10 and 8 minutes, respectively.  Somehow they managed to score 16 and 7 points, respectively.

Zach Randolph was the only starter to score in double digits (10 pts), but he was joined by Jordan Adams, JaMychal Green and Russ Smith (all rookies).

The Grizzlies had 4 more rebounds, 6 fewer turnovers, 2 more steals, and 18 more points in the paint than the Warriors.

Lessons Learned:

It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. The Grizzlies had a weak start last night, but they had a strong finish.

Experience isn’t everything. Sometimes youthful energy is more valuable than experience.

Be ready when it’s your time. You may not play every game, but when you do, make your mark.

Even if you’re down, it doesn’t mean you’re out. A basketball game is 48 minutes. Don’t give up after 12, 24, or 36 minutes…stick around, stay in the fight.  Sometimes things change. Don’t stop believing Memphis!

The last game of the regular season is tomorrow night at Fed Ex Forum against the Indiana Pacers.  All fans in attendance at the game will be given a poster. The game will be aired on ESPN with an 8:30 p.m. tip. Come on down to the Grindhouse and support the team as they prepare for the playoffs or tune in to ESPN or 92.9FM and cheer them on.

Carmen Patton
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