Making this quick because, like the Grizzlies, I'm ready for the All-Star break too.
The Lead: After a sharp performance against a bad team Sunday, the Grizzlies gave an erratic, clock-watching kind of performance against the Kings Tuesday night in the final game before the All-Star break. Combatting erratic energy and execution all night, the Grizzlies committed 21 turnovers and were more the doubled-up in steals (12-5) and fastbreak points (28-13) — all very much inter-related numbers — en route to giving up 100 points on the FedExForum floor for the first time all season.
But, ultimately, the better team with the most determined player (one Tony Allen) was able to pull away in the fourth quarter, and go into the break on a three-game win streak.
Man of the Match: Tony Allen struggled with Tyreke Evans both early and late, but was the best player on the floor for much of the game, giving the Grizzlies an energy boost early when they desperately needed it and continuing his sharp play into the second quarter.
Allen's wonky knee must be feeling pretty good lately, because he's going up high on rebounds and finishing strong at the rim in addition to his usual fast-twitch defense and underrated off-ball cuts. Allen scored a season-high 19 points on 8-12 shooting, to go with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
Nightly Number: The new-look Grizzlies continue to cobble together decent three-point shooting, something that's been driver of good offensive play, both early and again post-trade. The Grizzlies were 6-13 from long range, with six different players chipping in.
The Match-Up: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Marc Gasol is one of my favorite match-ups in the league. They're both so big and so skilled and so expressive. And, tonight, neither one could do much with the other. Cousins went for 23 points on 8-15 shooting, with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals. But, as is too common, his focus seemed to waver. Gasol worked his way to 24 points and 12 rebounds on 8-13 shooting, though his out-of-character 2 assists to 5 turnovers is an indicator of how out of sorts the Grizzlies seemed despite the high-scoring win.
Elements of Style: Unsurprisingly, Tony Allen factored into the two most memorable plays of the game, both in the second half. In one, Allen was the recipient of the some of the best ball movement we've seen all season. The play started with Zach Randolph posting on the left block, who sent the ball back out to entry passer Mike Conley, who whipped it to Marc Gasol at the top of the key, who sent it to Tayshaun Prince at the right elbow, who dropped it down to Allen on the right block for a hoop and harm.
On the other play, as part of an extended sequence of dynamic play, Allen drove baseline and tried a two-hand, over the back reverse lay-up that looked, for a second, like it dropped in, but was actually tipped in by teammate Darrell Arthur. Allen glanced up at the big screen to try to sneak a peak at the replay, but had to abandon that plan with the ball still in play and the Kings advancing up the floor. Stylistic justice would have not only given Allen credit for the bucket, but allowed for a stoppage in order for Allen to admire his handiwork.
On the opposite end of the style spectrum: Sacramento's two-tone black-and-purple jerseys with white-and-purple NASCAR checks along the sides. Hideous.
The Jacob Riis Report: Free Tyreke Evans. Evans was really good tonight. When he's healthy and focused, he's a locomotive force attacking the rim and got into the paint repeatedly in scoring 20 points on 10-17 shooting. His career has been a disappointment since his dynamic rookie season, but Evans still has All-Star upside and will make for a very interesting restricted free agent this summer.
Not looking good: Kings' rookie Thomas Robinson, a lottery pick who was physically dominant in college but looks very, very ordinary at the NBA level so far. Robinson has small-forward size without small-forward skills, and while he rebounds well, doesn't show signs of be a freakish energy player in the manner of a Kenneth Faried.
Tweet O’ the Game: "It's amazing what you can do when your teammates are behind you." — Rudy Gay — @JohnnyNBA
Arena Action: After meeting with media in the morning (see highlights here) and making some community rounds in the afternoon, controlling Robert Pera made a brief courtside appearance, alongside CEO Jason Levien, in the first half. Pera seems to have more fun away from the cameras, though. Monday night, less than an hour after landing in Memphis, he was on the FedExForum practice court, playing pick-up ball. After the win against the Kings, Pera reportedly bought a round of celebratory drinks for everyone at the arena's Lexus Lounge restaurant.
Where They Stand: The Grizzlies improved to 33-18 and gained some ground in the Western Conference playoff race, with the Nuggets falling to the Raptors on a Rudy Gay game-winner. The Grizzlies are now a full game ahead of the Nuggets for the fourth seed in the West and hit the break on pace for a franchise-best 53 wins.
Looking Ahead: After the break, it's the Rudy Trade Road Trip, facing Detroit and Toronto in back-to-back games next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Announced Attendance: 14,722