The Return of Grit and Grind: Kings recap

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Courtesy of Kelley Evans

Courtesy of Kelley Evans

Tensions ran high from the very beginning last night at the FedEx Forum. Dave Joerger’s pregame press conference included a snipe at recent fan freak out saying, “I don’t care what the fans think.” Post game Joerger would relent his position by adding that “We have the best fans in the world.” The Grizzlies were returning home after a 14 point loss in San Antonio that knocked them out of their long held 2nd spot in the Western Conference. The string of losses were the first set of losses that had consequences. However, unlike the Titanic, the proverbial ship was kept afloat as the Grizzlies defeated the Kings at home 97-83.

Tony Allen remained relegated to the bemch with the hamstring strain suffered during the loss to Golden State. DeMarcus Cousins of the Kings was also riding the pine for “rest”.  In the first quarter, Marc Gasol’s jersey was added to the injury report. After his signature shot tumbled around the world and out, Gasol channeled former Grizz turned kickboxer Darko Milicic, and ripped his jersey down the front. Gasol acknowledged his Darko moment post game calling him “My man”.

There was much speculation as to which Grizz team would show up at the Forum last night. Fortunately, it was close to the one fans became accustomed to seeing in the first half of the season. After a massive slump the Grizz offense sparked early, and often. Grit and Grind defense also regulated, smacking down 11 King attempts.

In the 3rd quarter Rudy Gay had an unintentional altercation with Marc Gasol’s elbow. Gay remained down for several minutes before rising to a Memphis standing ovation. Gay underwent a concussion test, and did not return to play. Due to NBA concussion protocol Gay will miss basketball activities, including Wednesday’s match-up between the Kings and Rockets, for the next week.

Mike Conley led the offensive assault with 18 points, and 4 rebounds. Conley played the most minutes at 34. This is the first game in several outings that Conley has looked healthy. Conley also joined in on the season high (11) block party.

Zach Randolph went beast mode, and proved he can jump over more than the broom, with a powerful driving slam dunk, finished with hang time on the rim. Zach threw down 15 points, and grabbed 7 rebounds. Randolph was also assigned a technical foul. It’s safe to say hibernation is over, and the beast is hungry.

After a period of adjustment, Jeff Green is comfortable. Not only is Supreme comfortable, he’s an aggressive force to be reckoned with. A lockout from Gasol landed firmly in Green’s hands and was taken on a monster drive to the basket. Jeff Green posterizes with the best of them. Green has played well since his reassignment to the bench in favor of Tony Allen. In Allen’s absence we saw him return to the starting five. Green posted up 16 points points, including the slam, and two beautiful, nothing but net, three pointers.

Courtney Lee is warming up. Lee has been almost non-existent since the All-Star break. Lee was quiet about a hand sprain sustained three games in from the break, and finally had to rest. While his shooting prowess has not fully returned, he is beginning to shoot. Lee went 5 for 10 for the night, knocking down jump shots from impressive heights. Lee has some serious hops. I would love to see him slam. Although he went 0-4 from the perimeter, at least he has returned to the arc.

The night belonged to reserve center Kosta Koufas. Koufas was the most aggressive we’ve seen him this season. He owned the paint. He contributed 8 points, and an impressive 12 rebounds.

Vince Carter’s rehab has been a fountain of youth! Vinsanity has more hustle, and the veteran was knocking down long shots from beyond the arc. This is the perfect time for Vince to get hot. Come the play-offs Carter will be on full on fire. Carter has also received his $200 check from former coach Dean Smith’s estate.

Last, but not least, Marc Gasol. Our All-Star grabbed 11 rebounds, put up a tepid 8 points, and passed for 6 assists. Gasol is clearly frustrated. The fishbowl pressure cooker is taking a toll. Gasol has a marked target on his back. Expectations are high, as is criticism.

The next three days provide some much needed rest for the Grizzlies. After briefly losing the number two spot, it was returned by the victory last night. We’ll see you Friday night versus the Thunder.

Jennifer Conroy
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