Author's Note: This seemed like the thing to do at the time: Instead of a normal "the Grizzlies did this and then the Wizards did that and then the Grizzlies did this," I figured it'd be more interesting (and ultimately more enlightening) to look at some statistics from Tuesday night's close win over the Wizards that tell the story of how the game was won.
Points scored by Nick Calathes. Last night's opponent being the Wizards, with Mike Conley out, Nick Calathes spent almost all of last night matched up against John Wall, who is just a touch more athletic and quicker than Calathes. It looked like a matchup with the potential to turn into a bloodbath if Wall started to get going.
More than one Grizzlies Twitter-er, this writer included, prepared for the worst headed into the game. Some examples:
It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m worried Wall is going to do bad things to Calathes and they’re going to be televised.
— Kevin Lipe (@FlyerGrizBlog) February 12, 2014
Griz-Wiz about to jump off. Marc Gasol might want to cross himself already on behalf of Nick Calathes.
— Chris Herrington (@HerringtonNBA) February 12, 2014
Neither of those tweets of foreboding (there's a 21st Century phrase for ya) proved to be necessary, as Calathes not only held his own, he played excellent defense on Wall (who scored 5 points on 2-10 shooting) and scored 18 of his own points on 12 shots while also grabbing 6 rebounds and making assists (at least two of which were no-look bounce assists to Marc Gasol, which is something Calathes is getting better at as of late).
It was another great game from the Grizzlies' backup point guard, and a sure step in the right direction for his direction and his career. If he can continue to play at something approximating this level, I think "Ole Glacier Veins Calathes" (another tweet reference) is going to be just fine. He's already at least as good as Keyon Dooling. (That was a joke, right?)
Points scored by Bradley Beal. With Courtney Lee playing but not quite 100% on a bum ankle, what the Grizzlies really needed was a wing who could go out and absolutely lock down the opponent's one hot-scoring shooting guard. If only they had a guy like that on the roster...
This is one game where the Grizzlies without question missed having Tony Allen on the court. I'm not saying Allen would have been able to turn off Beal's water—Beal had a great game and the Wizards were using all kinds of clever down screens and other stuff to get him open—but it would've had an impact. I doubt that Beal scores 37 if Allen is in the game.
Allen's absence has become something of a mystery for Griz fans as of late. When he first got injured all those weeks ago, I reported the nature of the injury: Allen had a hand injury, in which the ligament pulled away from the bone and took a chip of bone with it. At the time, I was hearing that he'd be out for two or three weeks, but his official status was given as "day to day." Clearly, an injury for which he has now missed five weeks of action is not "day to day." The fact that that's his official status is misleading, and it's also made fans wonder what else is going on with Allen—whether they weren't playing him for other reasons.
But in asking around last night, it seems like he really is hurt, and the Grizzlies do want him back on the court. The fact that I even had to ask around to find that out is a sure sign that the Grizzlies should've been a little more honest about the nature of the injury at the time. By not giving the injury a timetable, they gave the impression that it wasn't a serious injury (which obviously it is if he's been out this long).
Minutes played by Ed Davis. Ed Davis and Kosta Koufos both played more minutes than they've been averaging lately against the Wizards, to good effect. Davis is holding opponents to a FG% of 39.6% at the rim so far this season, and his play in space on defense has been pretty great (and improving over time). I'm not sure why Davis is so bad at knowing where to be on defense, but that kind of thing can only be learned by being on the basketball court in a game, so to see him playing as well as he is makes me (1) happy that he's proven to be much better than the bum Lionel Hollins apparently thought he was and (2) think he should probably be playing more minutes than he is, especially while Gasol is still on the mend.
What happens with Ed Davis at the end of this season, when he's a restricted free agent, is still a mystery. It's unclear exactly what sorts of financial maneuverings will have to take place if the Grizzlies want to keep him, or whether they'll try to move him as the deadline approaches and get a small forward in return. But no matter what happens there, Davis has gotten markedly better at almost everything this season, and I think that's worth noting.
Turnovers committed by Zach Randolph, who got manhandled by Nene on both ends of the floor. Which is something that happens to a lot of people, I guess, but it was still frustrating to watch Z-Bo out there unable to really do much. The addition of Gortat to this Wiz team means they're able to do things like play Nene on Randolph instead of Gasol, which makes them a much more versatile team, matchup-wise. The Z-Bo/Nene matchup was not one that the Grizzlies won.
Number of three point shots attempted by Courtney Lee. He only made one of them, but I don't care: taking those shots is exactly what Courtney Lee is here to do. On most nights, he'll hit two or three of them, and on some nights he'll hit four. Which is perfect for the Grizzles' offensive system. Last night was an off night for him from long range, probably at least in part because he was still hurting a little bit, but I like that aggressiveness. May we never return to the days when the Grizzlies would only attempt 3 three point shots in a whole game.