For more than three quarters, the Grizzlies' four-game West Coast road trip was off to a frustrating start. Shots wouldn't fall, the Golden State Warriors had more energy, and whenever the Grizzlies would make a mini-run, cutting the deficit to 15 or 13 or 12, the Warriors seemed to respond with a long jumper, pushing it back to 15 or 17 or 18.
Eighteen was where it stood a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter, with the Grizzlies down 70-52 and seemingly a few possessions from calling it a night. That's when the defensive intensity started to ramp up, and the Grizzlies closed on an improbable, ferocious 33-15 run in the final eight minutes in which they forced eight Warriors turnovers on seven steals (three from Tony Allen).
Mike Conley scored a layup off an Allen steal and Rudy Gay pass to give the Grizzlies the lead (86-85), then Gay extended it with fade-away 17-footer at the :22 mark to put the Grizzlies up 88-85.
Despite some hiccups at the free-throw line (1-4 down the stretch) it was Gay's best game of the season, one where he wasn't just making shots, but making plays, including a steal and block at the rim in that closing run. Gay finished with a game-high 23 points to go with 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, and was obviously still processing the mix of elation and confusion the game provoked when he was interviewed in the immediate aftermath. Toward the end of the brief on-court interview, sideline reporter Rob Fischer asked Gay about his decision to where a headband during the game, which was a new look for him. Gay motioned back toward the rest of the team with a smile and said, “I wore the headband because the trainer says I always play bad when I wear the headband.” Then Gay looked into the camera, pointed, and channeled his inner Hulk Hogan with a message to viewers at home: “Kids out there, make your own luck. Make your own luck.”
Never mind that it was about midnight Memphis time when this all occurred and there were probably very few kids watching. It was a happy moment that evoked a couple of other memorable postgame interviews — Tony Allen after a wild win at Oklahoma City last season (“All Heart. Grit. Grind.”) and Zach Randolph after finishing off the Spurs in the playoffs (“Ain't nothing been given to me. Ain't nothing been given to this city.”) — capturing the scrappy, hard-working tone of this particular Grizzlies team.
The win extends the Grizzlies' winning streak to seven, which could easily end tonight as they face a very tough game in Portland on the second night of the back-to-back set.