An unfamiliar foe gave the Grizzlies all they could handle during Thursday night’s 110-105 victory over Caja Loboral, the Spanish League Champions from last year. Caja Loboral provided constant full court pressure on the Grizzlies in the first half which led to 11 first half turnovers which were converted into 18 first half points. Even though the Grizzlies led 51-50 at halftime, it hardly felt as though they outplayed Caja Laboral.
Coach Lionel Hollins was using a ten man rotation by keeping the starters and the bench players separate. The Grizzlies bench did their part in the first half by playing just over nine minutes and keeping the game within arms reach. Sam Young pitched in with seven first half points and Darrell Arthur had six rebounds.
Coming out in the second half, the Grizzlies knew they needed a spark in order to pull away from Caja Laboral, and Mike Conley provided that spark by leading the Grizzlies on a 12-0 run in the first five minutes of the second half. Conley, along with Rudy Gay scored 16 of the Grizzlies first 18 points in the second before the bench re-entered the game with a 7-point lead. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, the bench was not able to hold the lead and trailed by two at the end of the third quarter.
The 10-man rotation was broken up at the beginning of the fourth quarter as Marc Gasol was inserted in the lineup for Hasheem Thabeet because of the matchup problems on the perimeter. Mike Conley was also later inserted into the game for Xavier Henry. The fourth quarter provided little drama until the very end, as the Grizzlies held a 14-point lead with close to four minutes away and squandered it away with multiple turnovers in the final two minutes that allowed Caja Loboral to get within three before the Grizzlies finally put it away.
Conley finished the game 11-for-17 from the field with 27 points, but only one assist. Sam Young added 21 points off the bench. The Grizzlies committed 24 turnovers, including four apiece by Mike Conley and Xavier Henry, which led to 33 points. Marc Gasol was given a technical midway through the first quarter by official Steve Javie for arguing a foul call.
Mirza Teletovic led Caja Laboral with 24 points, including 4-12 from 3-point range.
From the Coach
Coach Hollins explained to the media after the game what he told Conley in reference to his match-up “That kid plays in Europe, you need to show him why he is playing in Europe.”
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By Ben Hogan, Photo by Chase Gustafson.