MEMPHIS – If nothing else, the injury-riddled Grizzlies proved the other night they can battle with LeBron James and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
But there was so much more the Grizzlies showed then, and look to build upon now.
Can they pull off the upset and actually beat the Lakers this time? The Grizzlies get another shot Tuesday as the teams wrap up their two-game set at FedExForum, where they meet for the second time in three days after Sunday’s 108-94 setback to the Lakers.
As the Grizzlies look to regroup, our broadcasters ‘GrindTable’ breaks down three key topics entering the game. Consider it a 5-on-3 break, with the NBA’s most talented and knowledgeable broadcast crew filling lanes and scoring on each insightful point.
This week’s panel features Grizzlies TV broadcasters Pete Pranica and Rob Fischer, Radio play-by-play man Eric Hasseltine and pregame, halftime and postgame radio host Jessica Benson.
The biggest takeaway from Sunday the Grizzlies should carry into Tuesday’s game against the Lakers is…
Make sure the Grizzlies get a body on and match the activity level of Montrezl Harrell. He was again a problem for the Grizzlies with his energy and offensive rebounding. After holding Anthony Davis well below his averages, the Grizzlies couldn’t contain Harrell, whose 16 points off the bench were a big factor in the Laker win.
Heart. What’s impressed me the most about the Grizzlies in their last two games is they look like a team giving it their all. Of course, this is a team comprised of professional athletes who want to win, but it would have been easy to go into Sunday’s game and chalked up a blowout “L” due to being undermanned against the real life version of the Monstars. That 17-0 run in the first quarter with John Konchar, Grayson Allen, Desmond Bane, Xavier Tillman and Gorgui Dieng was everything.
The biggest takeaway is that against a team that has depth and superstars, you have to play solid for nearly all 48 minutes. The Grizz had a big run after trailing early and hung tight in the third quarter after the Lakers came back. But little swings are huge. You miss an open three and they push. They are champions for a reason. I thought the guys fought hard, but just didn’t have a good night from beyond the three-point line.
You have to make open shots. The Grizzlies played well enough defensively to win. The problem was scoring. The Grizz started the game 7-for-10 from three (6-for-9 after the first quarter) and finished 9-for-33. Yuck. The shots were open. When they’re open, you gotta knock ‘em down.
That these rookie draft picks are ready for rotation roles. First-round pick Desmond Bane was trending in that direction already, with his growing confidence to take and knock down big shots already this season. But we hadn’t seen much of second-rounder Xavier Tillman, who had been sidelined since the opening preseason game with knee soreness. But ‘X’ had an immediate impact in that stunning first quarter against the Lakers. More Bane-Tillman, please!
Seeing Marc Gasol in a Lakers uniform makes me think…
I think of the great moments he authored in Grizzlies history: the Clipper-beating triple and Connor McGregor walk, the banked three-pointer in an epic Grizz-Spurs game, his playoff game-winner against the Spurs. I remember his rookie season when his mother stopped me and asked to take my photo because she was making a scrapbook of Marc’s rookie year, and when I emceed his Defensive Player of the Year ceremony. I think of the great career he’s had and how much he’s missed in Memphis.
I hope we get to see him chug another bottle of wine in a championship victory parade going down Figueroa in Los Angeles. Seeing Marc make his return to FedExForum, albeit with very strange, nearly-empty arena circumstances, reminds me Memphis will always love him and he will always love Memphis. That’s so special; especially in a business that doesn’t always foster those city-player connections. It’s exciting to think he could earn not one, but two rings.
Seeing Marc in a Lakers jersey doesn’t bother me. It’s a great fit for him. He gave this city and the team all he had. Happy he has a chance to really help them make a run at a repeat. Now had he signed with that other L.A. team, I’d cringe a little.
It makes me think of his brother. Pau went to Los Angeles and had a great run after being traded by the Grizzlies. Since he’s been gone, we’ve all gotten a better appreciation of just how good Pau was as a Grizzlies player. We appreciated Marc. I wish we appreciated Pau a little more as he heads to Springfield.
In these tough economic times, the NBA’s rich just got even richer. Gasol’s intellect, experience and selflessness are the perfect fit on a Lakers team gunning to defend an NBA championship. Having covered and been around LeBron, I can guarantee Marc is reminding LeBron a lot of another elite, foreign-born big man he was fond of in Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Seeing Ja Morant taking shots pregame already in his expected 3-to-5 week injury absence makes me think…
Seeing him walk without a limp (or a boot) makes me think that the absence might be closer to three weeks than five weeks. Of course, I don’t know how much discomfort he is feeling or how quickly he heals. He seems otherworldly when it comes to basketball talents. Maybe super-healer is also among his talents.
12 is just built different. Also, I may need to get some red clay and apple cider vinegar to fix my aching knees!
It’s encouraging, but I also hope he doesn’t push too hard till it’s (ankle) healed up. He’s a competitive guy and it’s killing him to not play. But you don’t want it to linger and be an issue all season.
That it’ll be the shorter end of 3-to-5 weeks. Ja is probably driving the training staff crazy because I’m sure he wants to come back NOW! But hopefully, Ja won’t rush things and will be 100% healthy when he returns. There’s no need to rush.
It makes me think Ja is making a very real and public effort to show the franchise and Grizzlies fans he’s a leader by example. The Grizzlies will do everything in their power to not bring Ja back before the ankle is completely healed. But Ja is going to push the pace, just like he does when he’s flying up and down on the court. And judging by the last time he came back after being sidelined a bit, expect Ja to be even better than he was before.
(Catch Pranica and Fischer on FOX Sports Southeast’s Grizzlies game-night coverage, and listen to Hasseltine and Benson on 92.9 FM ESPN Radio, the Grizzlies radio flagship station)
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