In a Nutshell
The Grizzlies don't play a great game, falling into cruise control mode enough to let the Blazers hang within low-double-digits for most of the night. But the game's never really in doubt as Portland's three-point shooting isn't consistent enough to overcome the inside play of Memphis.
The Blazers came out playing defense so poorly that somewhere I heard Harrison Ford yell for Karen Allen not to look at it. Memphis took an early lead but then relaxed, allowing Wesley Matthews to fire free from the three-point arc. Matthews has been on fire lately. The combination of his marksmanship and a few inside rebounds and buckets from J.J. Hickson allowed the Blazers to take a surprising 27-24 lead heading into the second period.
That's when the Grizzlies remembered they were obligated to play this game and couldn't just absorb the "W" by default. They got out and defended the arc, causing the Blazers to miss from distance. Since that's literally the only semi-reliable attack the Blazers have at this point, Portland's scoring dried up. Throw in a few turnovers leading to Memphis run-outs and the rout was on. The Grizzlies outscored the Blazers 30-18 in the period, leading 54-45 going into the half.
J.J. Hickson had some great moments in the third period but the Blazers never got their shooting range back and never got control of the game. Turnovers continued and Memphis outscored them by 3 in the period. The only respite came when the Grizzlies' bench came in, but it wasn't near enough.
Hickson started out the fourth period destroying the Grizzlies all on his lonesome, scoring 7 of Portland's first 10 points. But the Grizz shut down the middle and the Blazers never went back to him, getting even more three-point happy than they had been earlier. By this time Memphis had gone into full lazy-mode on offense, settling for outside jumpers just as the Blazers were. Portland hit more and actually closed to 2 after a Matthews layup with 32 seconds left. The Grizz ran down the shot clock but missed a jumper with 10 seconds left and the Blazers had a chance to tie or take the miracle lead. The best they could manufacture was a contested three-pointer by Matthews which Rudy Gay summarily blocked. That was essentially the ball game. Grizzlies win 93-89 after the obligatory intentional foul for possession.
Portland's offense is hurting right now but the interior defense is just horrid. Memphis scored 58 in the paint tonight and could have had 80 had they tried. The Blazers couldn't stop anything in there.
- J.J. Hickson continues to impress almost everywhere with 23 points and 13 rebounds on 9-16 shooting. He was the only Blazer who actually hurt the opponent tonight instead of just annoying them like a mosquito.
- Jamal Crawford had 21 on 9-10 from the free throw line. That dribble is good for something!
- The Grizzlies are one of the first teams to catch up to Luke Babbitt on their scouting reports. They kept a man close to him all night. Not a double team, mind you, just a little defense. It killed him. Threebird went 3-10 from the field, 2-6 from the arc. He did have 7 rebounds but also 3 turnovers.
- Hasheem Thabeet had 8 rebounds in 20 minutes but ohhhh...watching him play hurts.
- Wesley Matthews had 7 rebounds as well.
- Nolan Smith had 6 assists tonight, far better than his last outing.
- Jonny Flynn went 0-5 from the field. Rough night.
- Wow...I don't think Kurt Thomas expected to play again this year. He looks like he went out and brought a brand new Bentley, then ate it. Even out of shape he had 6 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes.
Fun With Numbers
- Grizz 58 points in the paint, as just mentioned. Portland had 32.
- The Blazers kept alive at the foul line, hitting 25-31. Memphis attempted only 10, hitting 9.
- Portland shot only 6-24, 25%, from the arc. Once the Grizzlies shut off the tap the Blazers were helpless.
- Portland's 16 offensive rebounds were great. They allowed 17 though. It's tough when you have an advantage that you can't actually take advantage of.
- Blazers shoot 37% from the field...yet another painful outing.
- Blazers 15 turnovers for 16 Memphis points after. Memphis 10 turnovers for 5 Portland points after. Remember when this used to be one of Portland's keys to victory?
- Memphis' starting guards score 11 points combined. They only got 16 from their bench guards. Portland's guards combined scored 47 but yet again it hardly mattered.
Two games left. I'm sad about the end of the season...but not as well.
Straight Outta Vancouver will talk about the Grizzlies' near-miss.