The Lead: After three consecutive 20-point losses and at least the suggestion of some internal discord, the Grizzlies needed a calming double-digit win. They got it tonight, even if scoring only 85 points against what is, statistically, the NBA's worst defensive team doesn't exactly scream “everything's okay now.”
This wasn't a focused, intense effort, but the Grizzlies did maintain control for most of the night, and this wayward, lark of a game was more entertaining in an offhand, NBA nerd way than the score suggests.
Man of the Match: Credit Tony Allen for an awful lot of the good that happened tonight. Competitively, Allen had one of his better all-around performances, scoring 14 points on 6-11 shooting, with 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, and only 1 turnovers. The rebound, assist, and blocks numbers were all season highs. The highlight was a no-look, over-his-head pass to Rudy Gay for a baseline dunk. Why not?
Allen was also in rare form as creator of chaos and joy. When he fouled Kings center Chuck Hayes, Allen looked to referee Ken Mauer, stuck his hand, fingers outstretched, in the air, and yelled, “Five! Five!” That's the number worn by Grizzlies forward Marreese Speights, who was not involved in the play. Mauer gave the foul to number five.
After the game, I asked Speights if a teammate had ever gotten him in foul trouble before. Speights said, “You saw that?,” then rolled his eyes. “That's just Tony being Tony,” he said, good-naturedly.
Tony Allen fouls Chuck Hayes and then talks Ken Mauer into giving it to Mo Speights. "Five! Five! Tony says, holding up five fingers."
Allen's match-up with Tyreke “He Wit Us” Evans also provided its usual entertainment value. Early on, Allen hounded Evans into an airball, which provoked Allen's trademark “first down” signal. Later, Evans made a long jumper with Allen draped all over him, drawing a stink-face response and an appreciative, “That's cold. That's cold.”
Allen also spent much of the game letting teammates and the scoring crew know about his assists, including chastising public address announcer Rick Trotter for not calling an assist that the official scorer hadn't actually credited.
Nightly Number: The Grizzlies and Kings combined to make only five three-pointers, so maybe this wasn't an NBA game after all.
The Match-Up: Grizzlies-Kings isn't a sexy match-up, and 85-69 in the NBA probably can't really be a “good” game, but Marc Gasol-DeMarcus Cousins has become one of my very favorite player match-ups. Tonight, both played well while looking frustrated the whole time. They should be an early ’80s heel tag team called “The Insolent Hosses.”
Gasol started 1-5, but scored on a tip-in, pulled the ball down, and kissed it. He was 5-9 the rest of the way, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Cousins was pretty much the only thing going for the Kings. With 22 points, he was the only King player in double figures, adding a game-high 12 rebounds.
Elements of Style: Zach Randolph didn't play due to the back strain he suffered in the Spurs game, but was on the bench in warm-ups, and decided to play The Chemist for both teams before the game, exchanging greetings with anyone he could find: Grizzlies players, Kings players, reporters, game operations people, whoever. He ended up getting both teams hit with a delay of game warning.
After the game, Randolph said he's be traveling with the team for tomorrow night's game against Chicago, but wasn't sure if he'd be active.
The Jacob Riis Report: Mike Conley had 6 points and zero assists in the first half. He had 13 points and four assists in the second half. On a related note: The Jimmer Fredette didn't play in the first half but got 12 minutes in the second.
These Kings, I don't know what they're doing. I hope they stay in Sacramento, but they're roster makes no sense.
Tweet O’ the Game: Shout out to the two random credentialed media members a few seats down from me downing two 32 oz beers. — @PeterEdmiston
Where They Stand: The Grizzlies improved to 25-13 and moved two games ahead of the Golden State Warriors — who lost in San Antonio tonight — to strengthen their hold on fourth place in the Western Conference.
Looking Ahead: The Grizzlies will be in Chicago to face the Bulls tomorrow night, which should be a much better test of where the team stands.
Announced Attendance: 15,910
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 19 points, and playing off the ball alongside Jerryd Bayless for most of the fourth quarter seemed to free him up for shots, especially from the corners. If you're keeping track, the Conley Correlation grows every stronger.
Not what you would have expected: Zach Randolph sits, Rudy Gay plays 41 minutes, and Gay only takes 11 shots. (He hit six of them.)