The New Orleans Pelicans lost at home, 110-108, in double overtime to the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night. Both teams were severely hampered by injuries to numerous players so of course those still standing were forced a boatload of minutes.
In their previous 3 games, Memphis ran out a crew nicknamed the “Nasty Nine” — with just that many healthy players; tonight they had 10 with the signing of Toney Douglas. Memphis was missing Vince Carter, Mike Conley Jr, James Ennis, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph and Brandan Wright. Plus, Wade Baldwin IV is essentially a D-Leaguer and Deyonta Davis almost never plays. The Grit is real and the Grind is in the Grizzlies’ DNA.
Tonight’s game was so Pelicans-Grizzlies in so many different ways: players who NBA superfans barely know, heady “floor game” play, and an exhausting, if boring, finish. And of course Memphis is undefeated in “super clutch” time, now 10-0 when games are games are in the final minute (4th Quarter or OT) and the score differential is 3 points or less.
This is what Memphis does.
Conversely and sadly, New Orleans is used to that losing feeling. You almost knew how this game would end before the final minutes were played.
Langston Galloway scored a career-high 26 points (6-13 3FG), but he missed a couple to end the second overtime, including one at the final buzzer. Galloway was quick with the trigger, maybe injecting himself with an “I must perform” feeling knowing that Buddy Hield has seen diminishing minutes (24 tonight in a 58 minutes game) in recent games, and both Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore missed the game with toe injuries.
Anthony Davis took a lot of shots in the 4th quarter and two overtime periods. His two best attacks late were off of jab steps where he was able to get JaMychal Green slightly off-balance before driving, once into a floater and another time, late in the second overtime, into a contested layup-thing that wound up in a jump ball. Davis did some incredible things while also missing a lot of only semi-contested jumpers. I’d generally call it an “off night.” That’s 28, 17 and 4 blocks on an off-night. Watch this:
Somehow, the Pelicans should have won this game, but those “close the game out” plays were not in the bag of tricks tonight. Terrence Jones had a spectacular block on an unnamed Harrison twin with not much time left in regulation. How did the Pelicans blow it after this great play?
Well, Marc Gasol happened. AGAIN. The Pelicans easily could have won in regulation, overtime or in double overtime. AD missed some shots (4-of-12 in 4th Quarter and both overtimes), the Pelicans couldn’t clear the ball when absolutely necessary (6 Memphis offensive rebounds in OT+2OT) and nobody was scrounging around a la Tony Allen (19 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals, +9 +/-). Anthony Brown got some late minutes... he might deserve more (9 points, 6 rebounds) in the future.
Gasol and Gang
Marc Gasol is great, folks. He had a triple-double tonight with 28, 11 and 11. Check out these sweet moves:
Just as when Gasol devastated the Pelicans earlier this year, a YUGE 3-pointer proved to be a difference maker. This one was a step-back 3 to tie the game with a few seconds left in regulation. Steph and KD, look out!
He’s got some interesting (see: bad) combinations of players beside him. The story of the year for the Grizzlies might be the importance of Green, who is the one of those defense-first, athletic post-players who can establish a 10-year career with versatile play that pleases coaches. He moves the ball on offense and goes to the right places, can make shots (21 points in the team’s first game vs. NOP) and never let AD go nuclear; tonight Green had 5 points, 15 rebounds and was a game-high +15 +/-. Troy Daniels proved yet again that making shots is, uh, *super important*: 29 points on 7 made 3s. He snuck around on Tim Frazier among others and even made a layup or two when he pump-faked and drove.
Who’s Wade Baldwin IV? Which Harrison twin was that? What is a Troy Williams? Is that the same as a Troy Daniels? Deyonta Davis is an NBA player? Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace, the basketball operations folks and the coaches (both Joerger and now David Fizdale, and their assistants) have to be given a ton of credit for making incredible use of the NBA scrap heap. The last few years, they’ve raided The Upside Down for random dudes who help this team win. Incredible considering the injuries.
On the flip side, the New Orleans Pelicans must pick up the pieces. 5 losses in the last 6 games and yet another contest that got away in the final possession or two. If you think it’s hard for a fan to swallow, the players must be in a world of hurt. Physically, mentally, you name it. If it’s any consolation, the team has two days off to clear their heads before welcoming the Philadelphia Sixers into town.