Its not the Super Bowl.
Its not the World Series.
Its not even the playoffs.
But aint it something!
The Memphis Grizzlies finally came together in the fourth quarter at The Pyramid and did what needed to be done: win a game. The final score of Memphis over the Cleveland Cavaliers, 98-95, speaks not of a now 1-8 team beating a now 2-9 team. Instead, the score speaks of the thirteen thousand Memphis fans raising twenty-six thousand hands in the air in a single, simple, innocent moment of community and happiness.
The Grizzlies win! The Grizzlies win!
And the squad did so without the aid of star center Lorenzen Wright, who left the game in the first half with spasms in his neck and back. Before he left, Wright did contribute 13 points and six boards. Forward Pau Gasol swung over from his usual spot to handle the five position and fellow forward Stromile Swift came into the game. The two forwards provided multiple match-up difficulties for the Cavs, who frequently found themselves on the short-end of Gasols seven foot frame or underneath a Swift jump-shot. Gasol would end the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Swift scored 17 as well and pulled in 6 rebounds.
The high scorer for the Grizzlies was none other than another rookie and another forward, Shane Battier. Battier played in an unnatural position as well, filling in the off-guard position but taking advantage of his bigger size and strength to the tune of 20 points. Guard Jason Williams led the Grizzlies with his 14 assists (with only three turnovers) and game-high three steals. Williams also scored 16 points.
For Cleveland, forward Lamond Murray lead all scorers and rebounders with 27 points and 16 boards, respectively. Four other Cavs scored in the double digits as well as guard Andre Miller had 13 points, as forward Ricky Davis scored 12 points, forward Chris Mihm poured in 11, and center Michael Doleac contributed 10 to the losing effort.
Miller also had a game high 15 assists and only one turnover for the night.
The Cavaliers hit on 53.8 percent of their shots in the first half, leading to a 54-43 lead. Memphis came out slowly in the third quarter, but gradually and consistently built momentum throughout. No single player starred overmuch rather than every player doing what he could to cut the lead. Then the crowd began to realize the possibility of this evening, roaring with a passion only possible when loss is so prevalent. As the third ended, the Grizzlies still trailed, but now only by two.
Memphis rode that momentum into the fourth quarter, using Williams passing (he had seven assists in the fourth alone) to create those mismatches leading to Grizzlies points. Also, the team allowed only one turnover in that time, taking advantage of every play and every moment of potential. The Cavs continued to play as they had all evening, however, and still managed to keep the game close. But in the same way Cleveland won the first half, Memphis won the second. In the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies shook their offensive woes and hit 64.7% of their shots, compared to Clevelands 42.1%.
After the game, coach and team alike had simple words to express the inexpressible feeling of the win.
They played tremendously, Memphis coach Sidney Lowe said with palpable relief after the game. Everyone just played well.
We just put it all together, Swift said in the locker room, the grin on his young face shining. We lost a big force on our side [in Wright], and had to play.
Im just impressed we got a win, no matter how we did it, Williams said in his characteristic understatement.
We finally got one, Battier said, towels draped over him and his shirt half-buttoned. We made some plays. Theres no magic. Thats how you win games.
Then again, maybe there was some magic this night. After all, the world didnt wake up to the sound of a roaring crowd, finally believing that theres something to this NBA thing. But the world _ the world around the Pyramid anyway _ will go to sleep knowing just that thing.
Aint it something?