...and the game got so far away that it looked like the collapse of an entire era of Memphis basketball—and by transit Memphis history—was about to crumble and blow away in the wind. The comeback attempt was pure Grizzlies, with hounding defense and Zach Randolph running straight over LaMarcus Aldridge to score on the other end, and it showed that maybe the Griz do care about whether they win the series or not.
Watch every player other than Vince Carter. pic.twitter.com/ocO83NWBOX— Matt Hrdlicka (@theRealHrdlicka) April 18, 2017
And now we’ve got to talk about last night’s Instant Classic, which happened after the game itself. I think it's fair to say David Fizdale was displeased with the way Game 2 was officiated:
I fully believe that Z-Bo could have ended the Cold War by just trucking his way straight through the Berlin Wall and making a layup— Kevin Lipe (@FlyerGrizBlog) April 18, 2017
“Take that for data” aside, those numbers certainly give the impression that the Spurs were getting calls that the Grizzlies weren't, and the eye test during the game backs that up. The counter, which is undeniable, is “don't go down by 30 points and the officiating won't matter so much,” but I think the disparity was more the issue than the raw numbers. It was not a game that was called the same way on both ends of the floor, and that lack of consistency is pretty damaging to the momentum of the team getting the short end of the stick.
At any rate, Fizdale’s outburst is a classic coaching move. He's going to pay a fine big enough to hurt his feelings, for sure. But the officials in the next game will be thinking about it, and the Griz will go into Game 3 knowing their coach is willing to cut a five-figure check to defend them. In a series where finding five guys who will all play hard at the same time seems to be a problem, that may ultimately be worth more than the money Fizdale is about to lose. But he's totally going to get fined, and probably a lot.
Game 3 is on Thursday. This new wrinkle, these Grizzlies that can make a furious comeback on the back of Zach Randolph, Old Faithful himself, Mr. 20-10 Since 2010, promises to make it a do-or-die affair. As a playoff catchphrase, “They Not Gon' Rook Us” is probably an all-timer. The Grizzlies have to find a way to make it matter.