Days after suffering a heartbreaking triple-overtime loss in Phoenix the Memphis Grizzlies needed only regulation to defeat the Suns.
The Griz were lead by forward Zach Randolph who posted 23 points and 20 rebounds. Memphis is now 4-4 overall with a 2-1 record at The FedEx Forum.
Rudy Gay added 22 points and eight rebounds in the win. Phoenix falls to 3-4 on the young NBA season.
Randolph’s double-double was the fifth 20-20 type of his career.
Rebounding and defense were the keys to victory for Memphis who stole the ball 12 times from visiting Phoenix and forced 23 turnovers. The Grizzlies are the best in the NBA in theft, averaging 12.6 steals per game.
The Grizzlies also overcame Friday night’s poor free-throw shooting to shoot 85.7% as a team, going 24-28 from the foul line.
So now that we have looked at the box score let’s evaluate the team so far in the season. In just four games the Grizzlies have gone from what looked like a certain lottery pick-bound season to possible playoff contenders. It is still early, but this team has the talent, at least in the starting five, to make some noise.
The biggest concern for Memphis right now, same as last season, is the bench production. Last season the starters logged almost all the minutes and that trend seems to be continuing this season.
That is never good news considering how long the NBA season is and how physical the game itself is. Consider Gasol’s shoulder injury last season. It came at a bad time (when the Griz were trying to make a playoff push) and he rushed back too early. I like the competitive fire, but let’s think long-term here guys.
It helps that Darrell Arthur is playing much better this season after sitting out 56 games last season due to injury. He is rebounding well and making shots. He only had two points and two rebounds last night, but he was able to play 20 minutes. That allowed Gasol to only play 28 minutes. Little things like that add up throughout the year.
While that is a positive, there is a much larger negative. Only four Grizzlies came off the bench last night. Four. That means they played a nine-man rotation. This was not due to injury, all coach’s decisions.
Not to mention Randolph needed 41 minutes to post his huge numbers.
Sam Young only played 9 minutes off the bench. He was the best player from that position last year and he had a great summer league. One can only wonder what has landed him in coach Lionel Hollins‘ doghouse.
Somehow Acie Law made the roster this season and played only 12 minutes against the Suns while Henry played 25.
It is always nice to get wins, but the bench situation must improve for this team to have any hope of a playoff birth this season.
The Grizzlies will next play host to the 4-2 Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.
About the Author
Written by Jacob Wells
I grew up in Memphis and I have always been a Grizzlies fan, even back in the Vancouver days. When they moved to Memphis I was as excited as anybody. It has been tough for a long time, but I never get tired of looking forward to next season. I graduated from Middle Tennessee State University and still live in the area. Go Grizzlies.