Normally a home opener get a super-sized post-game notebook, but this year I'm committing myself to tightening up the game-night posts in order to make time for more carefully considered writing in-between games. And tonight, well, the game itself was rendered undercard by a surreal, convulsive moment in franchise history — an all-day transfer of ownership that left most people who had been at the arena since morning exhausted and wishing we could bypass the game itself. Robert Pera and Jason Levien and a boatload of new minority owners were in. Michael Heisley and Stan Meadows were out. And NBA commissioner David Stern was just passing through, long enough to bless Pera's ownership while also wondering out loud about his terseness on the mic and assert the NBA basketball in Memphis is in the best shape it's ever been.
I'm going to get back into ownership stuff as the week goes on. For now, a very quick acknowledgement that, yes, a basketball game was played tonight:
The Lead: The Grizzlies overcame some unfathomable early shooting — include lots of out-of-control Tony Allen forays and lots of point-blank misses — to cruise to a victory in the fourth quarter. The bench, led by Quincy Pondexter, gave the team a great boost of energy late in the first quarter, which ignited team-wide defensive intensity. And then Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph took over, with often dominant interior play.
Man of the Match: Quincy Pondexter deserves an honorable mention here for his hustle plays and three-point marksmanship, but Marc Gasol was just too splendid to deny: 22 points (on 6-11 from the floor and 10-10 from the line), 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 blocks for the most skilled center on the planet.
Nightly Number: With 18 rebounds tonight, Zach Randolph is averaging 16 a game through the first three contests. His timing on his shot still seems a little off, but, physically, the beast is back.
Looking Ahead: The Grizzlies travel to Milwaukee on Wednesday night to face Bucks.
Announced Attendance: 17,401, a good crowd for Griz-Jazz on a weeknight any other time, but anything less than a sellout on opening night is a disappointment.