5 ON 5: Grizz/Thunder Preview

Memphis advanced to the Western Conference Semis for the first time in franchise history, their opponent will be the up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder following OKC’s 4-1 series win over the Denver Nuggets.

This series will feature two of the younger and more entertaining teams to watch in the NBA…

How does the match-up look?

Defense irritate Zbo. Zbo score.

IN THE BACKCOURT:

GRIZZLIES will feature Mike Conley Jr. and Sam Young as the starting guards for Memphis.  Conley proved his worth in the San Antonio series as he matched up vs veteran point man Tony Parker.  The 4-2 series victory over the Spurs saw numerous contributions from just about everyone in a Grizz uniform.  Due mostly in part to the play of Conley at the helm.  He averaged more than six assists per game in the series while also pitching in 14.3 ppg.  Sam Young became an unsung hero in the final two games in the series as his numbers grew in his contributions in games five and six.  Combined in those two games in chipped in 27 points and 7 rebounds.

THUNDER will put their trust in the recently “trigger happy” Russell Westbrook.  I don’t say trigger happy as a knock to Westbrook, because make no doubt about it… he can put up numbers in a hurry.  In a series where OKC blew out Denver in all but game 4 of the series, he was a major contributor.  He scored a combined 67 points in the final three games of the series while also averaging just over 6 rebounds in each game.  During the season, he played quarterback for the Thunder dishing out 8.2 assists per game.  If there is a weak point in the Thunder’s starting five, it lies in Thabo Sefolosha.  His career numbers include averaging less than 6 PPG, 1.5 APG, and 3.8 RB.

IN THE FRONT COURT:

GRIZZLIES rely heavily on the production out of Tony Allen, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph.  The “Big 3” of the Grizz contribute not only on the scoresheet, but they are a mainstay in the eyes of the fans and in the locker room as the heart and soul of this team, as was evident in the SAS series.  In every game in the first-round series, Allen snagged at least one rebound, steal, and field goal.  Gasol got off to a fast start in the 2011 Playoffs grabbing 24 points and 9 rebounds in game one followed by 17 rebounds and 12 points in game two.  He nearly averaged a double-double in the final four games.  Randolph posted 20+ points in four out of the six games vs the Spurs.  He controlled the paint as the series progressed averaging just over 9 rebounds while also sharing the wealth sending out over 3 assists per contest.

THUNDER added former Celtic Kendrick Perkins as their big man paired alongside Serge Ibaka in the heart of their paint.  Perkins struggled to get going in the series vs Denver following a MCL sprain at the end of February.  The 6’10” big man averaged a small 5.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.  Ibaka leads the Thunder in rebounds and blocks.  He averages 11 rebounds along with almost five blocks each time out, thats more than double the blocks Grizz leader Gasol averages.  Last but not least we focus on Kevin Durant or a.k.a. “Durantula”.  He scored 162 points in five games vs Denver including two 41 point performances.  Durant is an out and out scorer and it will be interesting to see if the Grizz try to shut him down or if they will allow him to get his points while limiting others.

Brennan Somers is a regular contributor to Memphisport. You can follow him on Twitter @brennansomers. For more live tweets during Grizzlies games follow @memphisport, @douggillon, @cerrito, and @chasingphoto.

Story photo by Chase Gustafson.

 

BASES LOADED: REDBIRDS TURN THINGS AROUND

Leading Off–  The Redbirds began a strong run of form last weekend winning three out of a four game series vs divisional foe Iowa.  The Birds scored 22 runs in the series moving above their season average as the bats finally began to make some noise.  Following the torrential rain and storms this week, Memphis welcomed Round Rock to Autozone Park where the first two games of the series were split, Memphis won 6-5 Thursday and Round Rock won 5-4 in the second game Friday.

On Deck–  The Redbirds wrap up their current home-stand vs Round Rock the same time the Grizzlies play the Thunder Sunday.  Then Memphis will take to the road for an eight game stretch of road tests vs New Orleans and Albuquerque.  New Orleans swept the Redbirds in April 4-0.

Single– Memphis is now tied for 3rd place in the PCL American North Division with a 8-13 record.  The Redbirds are five games behind leaders Omaha.

Double– Brandon Dickson is the 3rd best pitcher currently in the PCL.  With a record of 1-2, he has a 1.73 ERA in four starts.  He has given up seven runs on 19 hits while also striking out 24 batters in 26 innings of work.

Triple– CF Shane Robinson continues to thrive in the early part of the season.  He leads the Redbirds with a batting average of .400, his On Base + Slugging Percentage is 1.035.

Homerun–  With 12 homeruns registered this year, the Redbirds remain in last place for another week of PCL rankings.  Leaders Reno have hit 32.

Bases Loaded is a weekly recap of the past week’s story-lines and news from the Memphis Redbirds.

Brennan Somers covers the Redbirds for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter @brennansomers.

 

Top Five Everything from the Grizzlies’ series clinching Game 6 win over the Spurs

So the Grizz made history. Three times in a week. Awesome. Like before, you want the more traditional recap, go here.

This is the breakdown master list. As always these are real events that happened in a real game…

Top Five Basketball Moments

5) Greivis Vasquez’s first quarter

Hero of the first half.

Coach Hollins called him “dudley do-right.” If not for Randolph a more appropriate moniker would be “hero of the day.” When starting guard Mike Conley had to leave the game because of two fouls in the first two minutes, the rookie Vasquez came in and played like a man possessed.

The Venezuela native dropped a runner immediately after entering the game, and led all scorers at the half. Vasquez stayed steady despite aggressive pressure from Tony Parker and really delivered some huge minute with Conley struggling with fouls and his own jump shot for the entire game.

4) Zach Randolph rumbles past Ginobli for fast break score

It’s hard to pick many moments from the second, third and most of the fourth quarter, because the Grizzlies and Spurs were just trading stand-up punches in front of an increasingly nervous crowd.

But watching Zach Randolph execute a fast break with the much quicker Ginobli chasing him with 6:38 left in the fourth was a special moment.

3) Darrell Arthur alley-oops, blocks, alley-oops again.

Another set from those tense, tense quarters. As I’ve said before, teams have a tendency to forget about DA. It happened again in the third quarter, as Arthur slammed home an alley-oop from Mayo, then blocked a shot, then slammed home another alley-oop from Vasquez. It was one of many moments that temporarily brought the crowd back into the game until the Spurs landed another punch.

2) Antonio McDyess gives Spurs 80-79 lead

When this happened, the Grizzlies were done messing around. The Grizzlies had stubbornly hung onto the lead until this point, but McDyess jumper made the possibility of a Spur win suddenly very real. The Grizzlies were down again, in a position they were used to, in a position where they were comfortable, and the increased comfort level showed. After the shot the Grizzlies came out of a timeout with an 8-0 run.

1) Zach Randolph muscles through three defenders to cap 14-2 run, seal game

There was no stopping Z-Bo.

The Spurs had managed to make the run 10-2 at this point, but Z-Bo was not having any of their defiance. The Grizzlies’ unquestionable MVP bullied through three Spurs to finish with a signature so-ugly-its-beautiful layup and put the Grizzlies up 10. Then the crowd stopped being nervous and started celebrating again. They realized it was really happening.

Top Five “You had to be there” Moments

5) The great signs / t-shirts

The only time all week anyone has cared about this stupid wedding.

Memphis fans have been great in this department for the whole series, and tonight was no different. Some highlights include signs of the royal couple with Grizz headbands, a signs reading “Finish Them,” (aside: if the Grizzlies were a Mortal Kombat character who would they be? Sub-Zero?), “Grit, grind beats flop, whine,” and a set of t-shirts that read “Go Flop Yourself Ginobli.”

4) Tony Allen dives over scorer’s table, fires up crowd

While hustling for a loose ball along the sidelines, Spur forward Matt Bonner bumped Tony Allen hard enough to send him hurtling over the scorer’s table. Allen’s anger raged until the officials closed on him and the crowd roared. Then Tony calmed down, got up and faced the crowd as he was showered with chants of “TO-NY! TO-NY!” followed by a massive “Let’s go Grizzlies!”

3) Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey

Seriously... it's a monkey riding a dog.

Yes this was a Monkey riding a dog. A border collie if you’re a stickler for details. Presented as “Grizz’s present to the Spurs,” fans were treated to – well – a monkey riding a dog during a third quarter timeout. It was just one more thing that helped the crowd stay in the game during some of the most nerve-racking minutes in the history of MemphiSports.

2) Jerry Lawler literally pulls the strap down

The strap is on it's way down.

See the top five tweets for more on this. Lawler again came out to fire up the crowd before the game, but this time took off his custom Grizzlies jersey to literally pull down the straps of his Beale Street blue tights.

“I know there was a royal wedding this morning, but the King had to get back to Memphis for the Royal beatdown we’re gonna put on the Spurs tonight!”

1) History

Pictured: History

The Grizzlies made history for the third time in just a few weeks. The crowd stayed for longer than they ever have, rejoicing in DJ Khaled’s “All I do is Win” and Teflon Don’s “M.E.M.P.H.I.S. Grizzlies.”

Finally it was time to celebrate.

Top Five Quotes

5) Shane Battier
“The single moment where the clock hit zero was one of the purest moments I’ve had in sports.”

4) Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to ESPN AV guy before his press conference
“Do you want to do this for me?”

3) Lionel Hollins to NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein
“What’s up baby? I knew we were in the big time when I saw you were in the house.”

2) Marc Gasol
“There’s a lot of history in what we’ve done here but our job is not done. We’re not satisfied with where we are right now. We’re going to keep moving forward and play without fear.”

1) Zach Randolph
“I feel like I’m from Memphis.”

Top Five Tweets

5) @paugasol
Incredible finish by the @Grizzlies! I’m so proud of #marcgasol and the entire team. It’ be special if we meet up in the conference finals.

4) @GaryParrishCBS
Strap down. Game over. RT @johnmaddox: @GaryParrishCBS@JerryLawler Is the strap up or down? If down, Spurs should just get on plane now.

3) @geoff_calkins
Z-Bo has an extra W chromosome.

2) @flyergrizzblog
Guy behind me loves the timeout entertainment: “MONKEY RIDING A DOG! MONKEY RIDING A DOG!”

1) @cerrito
Anyone know who is winning Music Fest?

Top Five Photos

Be sure to check out MemphiSport Live (MSL) Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00pm on Sport 56 AM 560 for the first radio show to recap the game. Scheduled guests are Chris Wallace, Greivis Vasquez, Jerry Lawler, and Jimmy Goldstein. All packed into what may prove to be the greatest two hours in Memphis sports radio history. Or History.

For more on the series, check out the Top Five Everything of Game Four, our Game Four recap, the Top Five Everything of Game Three, our Game Three recap, our take on the game one win, and for some further back nostalgia, our Top 6 Beards of the Playoff Run.

Doug Gillon covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter@douggillon. For more live tweets during Grizzlies games follow  @memphisport@cerrito, and @chasingphoto


BELIEVE MEMPHIS! Grizzlies eliminate Spurs 97-91

 

AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

It was a win ten years in the making, but it didn’t come easy. The Memphis Grizzlies ground out a 97-91 win Friday night to eliminate the San Antonio Spurs and earn their first playoff series win in franchise history.

The turning point, strangely, came when the Spurs took the lead late in the fourth quarter. An Antonio McDyess jumper with 4:39 remaining put the Spurs ahead 80-79, but sparked a Grizzlies team that had been struggling to find a rhythm.

After the shot, the Grizzlies came out of a timeout to go on a 10-2 run and take an 89-82 lead into the final two minutes. One Spurs turnover and a massive Zach Randolph layup put the Grizzlies up 91-82 and sealed the win. There weren’t enough miracle shots in the world to bring the Spurs back from that.

Doug Gillon covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter@douggillon. For more live tweets during Grizzlies games follow  @memphisport@cerrito, and @chasingphoto

Photos by Chase Gustafson.

 

Gut Check: Miracle 3 lifts Spurs to 110-103 win over Grizzlies

Ouch says Memphis.

Gary Neal just made everyone in Memphis calm way the hell down. At least for a day or so.

With 1.7 seconds left on the clock and the Grizzlies up by three, Neal was able to get open at the top of the key and punch every Grizzlies fan in the country right in the stomach.

The miracle shot sent the game to overtime where the Spurs scored on their first three possessions and were able to pull away with a 110-103 win that kept them alive in the series.

The Grizzlies knew closing the series in San Antonio would not be easy, evidenced by Tony Allen’s much quoted (and sure to be much more quoted now) phrase that “you never underestimate the heart of a champion.”

That phrase was repeated often late in the first and for much of the second quarter, as the Grizzlies struggled and at one point trailed by more as much as 18.

The third quarter however, turned the tide for the Grizzlies, much like it did in game 4. The Grizzlies outscored the Spurs 26-15 in the quarter and retook the lead, not relinquishing it until overtime.

But the Spurs never gave up. Down three late in the game, Gregg Popovich called for a quick layup dive for Ginobli, which he made. Zach Randolph made two free throws, keeping the lead at three.

Just a few game seconds later, at the tail of a busted play, Ginobli made an off-balace shot from right at the arc that was initially ruled a three-pointer. Game tied? No. Official review said Ginobli’s left toe was on the line, Grizzlies lead was at one.

Zach Randolph made two more free throws to keep the lead at three. The Grizzlies were 1.7 seconds away from ending the series.

Popovich called timeout and sent in Gary Neal. Of course he did. Neal led the NBA in three-point percentage for the regular season with 42%. He called a play to shoot the three from the top of the key. It worked, Neal got open, and nailed it at the buzzer.

It was the stuff that sports legends are made of (if you’re a Spurs fan) and the kind of thing to complain about for maybe decades (if you live in Grizz Country).

It could be a momentum changer for the series, or it could just be an amazing play that helped the Spurs stave off elimination. Everyone will know soon enough. Game six, in which the Spurs still face possible elimination, will be held Friday night in Memphis.

Note: Playoff tickets for game six go on sale for the general public at 10:00 a.m. Thursday Morning.

EDIT: As of 10:05 a.m., game six is sold out. Yes it only took five minutes… The game will begin at 8p.m. and broadcast locally on sportsouth and nationally on ESPN. As with previous games, the Grizzlies will host a pregame party in front of FedEdForum. The pep rally starts at 6 p.m.

For Grizz playoff coverage that doesn’t make you throw up a little, check out the Top Five Everything of Game Four, our Game Four recap, the Top Five Everything of Game Three, our Game Three recap, our take on the game one win, and for some further back nostalgia, our Top 6 Beards of the Playoff Run.

Doug Gillon covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter@douggillon. For more live tweets during Grizzlies games follow  @memphisport@cerrito, and @chasingphoto


Top 5 Everything from the Grizzlies’ Game 4 Win

Tornadoes raged through Memphis in the morning and at night. Inside The Grindhouse which is also sometimes called FedExForum, a furry blue tornado raged through the San Antonio Spurs playoff hopes.

This is the master list for Monday’s “Beale Street Beatdown”. You want a more traditional recap, go here. As always these are real things that happened in a real game…

 

Top Five Basketball Moments

5) “You have to be the man Mike”

Pictured: Being the man

The final score kind of covers this fact up, but the Grizzlies looked like crap for the first half of this game. They trailed at the end of the first two quarters, were outscored in the paint, had a shooting % of lower than 40 for most of the half, and were losing the battles for rebounds and fast break points.

The Grizzlies were playing in quicksand on offense, and the Spurs couldn’t miss. It was amazing the Grizz were able to stay in the game.

Part of the reason why was Lionel Hollins. With 5:27 left in the second quarter and the Spurs lining up for free throws, Hollins grabbed Mike Conley by the shoulders and told him “you have to be the man Mike.”

After that the Grizzlies started to wake up and set up the monster second half.

4) O.J. Mayo buys dinner for laws of physics, says “I’ll call you”

Seriously Newton... it's just not working out.

O.J. Mayo must have overheard the talk to Conley, because HE was the man in the stretch surrounding it.

Mayo missed a free throw due to an air horn, but Gasol grabbed the rebound and kicked the ball out to Mayo – who hit a three. Two-point play becomes four. On the next possession, Mayo decided that matter, anti-matter, the fabric of the universe and generally accepted restrictions of human movement were irrelevant and slammed home a reverse jam that Grizz fans will be seeing for a long time.

3) Shane Battier sends Spurs to the bench with corner three

5:43 left in the game, the Grizz were rolling, and Battier nailed a corner three (as he is one to do) to extend the lead to 20. Popovich gave up at that point, called a timeout and sent his starters to the bench.

2) Darrell Arthur inspires a new Eminem hit, “Forgot about DA”

You should never forget about DA.

Nowadays everyone wants to talk like they got something to say. Like that the Grizzlies still couldn’t beat the Spurs despite being up 2-1. Those people obviously forgot about DA.

Arthur, who has been sneaky good all year, especially when Vasquez is in the game, had the minutes of his life in this one. With 1:24 left in the third, he pressured the Spurs into a turnover of their inbounds pass. Then he made a 20-foot jumper. Then he made another 20-foot jumper. Then he put on wings to send home an alley-oop from Mayo. He finished with 14 points.

1) The whole third quarter

Yeah this was when the game went from “Oh crap, here we go again” to “Whoa, are the Grizzlies going to run the Spurs out of this arena?”

“Believe Memphis” kept becoming more appropriate as the Grizzlies outscored the Spurs 30-15 in the quarter.

It started early as the Grizzlies were able to get into the bonus within 5 minutes. The Grizz capitalized on the free throws but also clamped down on defense, not allowing the Spurs to score until 7:22 remained in the quarter.

During this initial 14-0 run, Popovich called two separate timeouts to try and swell the tide. The second one finally did, resulting in a Ginobli layup, but the damage had already been done.

 

Top Five “You had to be there” Moments

5) Spirit of Memphis nails National Anthem

Nailed it. Nailed it. Nailed it. A soulful, a cappella rendition by the perfectly named group was a fantastic start to the night.

4) “The Grindhouse” originator passes out yellow cards for Ginobli

He was on the radio Saturday talking about how he invented the Grindhouse moniker, but Ryan Hamlin, aka @Hamlin38103, wasn’t content with that being his only contribution to the Grizzlies universe. After tweeting all day about how to make large yellow cards, Hamlin decided to pass them out to fans sitting behind the goals, with the intent of holding them up for every Ginobli flop.

The cards didn’t seem to catch on, but it was funny watching Hamlin pass them around before tip-off.

3) Grizzline joins in with “All I Do is Win” before fourth quarter and it doesn’t seem out of place at all

Because they believe.

Yes, the Grizzlies played the song normally reserved for end of the game a quarter early, but after that third quarter performance it didn’t seem like it would have been a jinx. By anyone. The crowd did the bump and grind right with Grizz line.

2) Tim Duncan picks up second foul, crowd erupts

Ginobli still got plenty of hate, but nothing like the boos he received in game three. The biggest hostile moment though had to be Tim Duncan’s second foul pickup in the third quarter.

Duncan predictably made the face he always makes, eyes wide open, hands out in front like “what did I do?” and the crowd ate it up. If anything Duncan made The Grindhouse louder by protesting the call.

1) The entire fourth quarter

This pretty much sums it up.

It became clear pretty early in this period that the Spurs were done, and then it was party party for the Memphis fans. For the first part of the game, the crowd didn’t seem to know how to get crazy for two games in a row. By the fourth quarter, they were screaming for every basket as the Grizzlies continued to pull away.

 

Top Five Quotes

5) Shane Battier on being up 3-1
“We held home court, and these guys can expect the toughest game of their life come Wednesday.”

4) Mike Conley on the start of the fourth quarter
“I think everybody smelled blood. We realized, a couple more punches and we got ’em.”

3) Coach Hollins on who was the better team
“They’re the better team. They won 61 games, and we won 46 games. Their record all year long said they were the better team. As I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter who is the better team during the regular season. When you get to the playoffs, each series you have to be the better team.”

2) Darrell Arthur on winning both early home games
“We’ve been playing well at home all season. I think we can beat anybody. I can’t remember the last time we lost several games in a row.”

1) Marc Gasol on whether the Spurs were prepared for Darrell Arthur
“They stuck to their game plan tonight, but I promise you they’re going to change it to look for him next time.”

 

Top Five Tweets

5) @ShaneBattier
Are those tornado sirens going off or are they just trying to hype up the city for tonights game?

4) @HPBasketball
It’s ALMOST like Matt Bonner can’t guard Zach Randolph. ODD. MORE RESEARCH NEEDED.

3) @chasingphoto
Ginobili definitely has a career in acting after the NBA. I have the photos to prove it.

2) @johnhollinger
@ChrisVernonShow May need an ice bath for my Griz fever after this one.

1) @FakeCoachPop
I knew I should have bought that Groupon for that guided fishing trip yesterday.

 

Top Five Photos

For more Grizz playoff coverage, check out the Top Five Everything of Game Three, our Game Three recap, our take on the last Grizz watch party (you know, because another one is coming up Wednesday), and for some nostalgia, our Top 6 Beards of the Playoff Run.

Doug Gillon covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter@douggillon. For more live tweets during Grizzlies games follow  @memphisport@cerrito, and @chasingphoto

Amazing photos by Chase Gustafson.

 

First to 100: Grizzlies destroy Spurs 104-86 in game 4, take 3-1 lead

Maybe the Grizzlies were tired of sweating out close games, so they just got this one decided early.

Sparked by a 14-0 run to start the second half, the Grizzlies ran the San Antonio Spurs out of the Memphis Grindhouse 104-86 to take a 3-1 series lead and come that much closer to winning their first playoff series in franchise history.

Offensively, the Grizzlies earned the win in an unexpected manner. Points in the paint, a Grizzlies staple strength, belonged to the Spurs for three quarters. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were effective, but not allowed to dominate – yet the Grizzlies still manhandled the Spurs on the backs of strong efforts off the bench from Shane Battier, O.J. Mayo, Greivis Vasquez and Darrell Arthur. The late big lead allowed for the entire team to play, and every Grizzly except Hamed Haddadi scored points.

The second half effort was even more amazing when considering that the Grizzlies trailed at the end of both the first and second quarters.

FedExForum, aka the Grindhouse, was again packed with the Grizzlies’ sixth sellout of the season. While the crowd was subdued early compared to Saturday, volume was again at 11 as the Grizz closed out the game in blowout fashion.

Doug Gillon covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter@douggillon. For more live tweets during Grizzlies games follow  @memphisport@cerrito, and @chasingphoto

Photos by Chase Gustafson.

Top 5 Everything from the Grizzlies’ Game 3 Win over the Spurs

It was the best FedExForum crowd ever and the best Grizzly win ever. If you’re looking for the more traditional recap, go here. For this one, let’s break it down in list form…

Top Five Game Moments:

5) Tim Duncan air-balls first FT of the game, misses second

A first-possession foul on the Spurs’ All-Star created a cascade of boos which was followed by a bigger cascade of cheers when Duncan’s first attempt failed to hit any part of the basket. The early misses set the stage for a game in which the Spurs would not get any leeway from the crowd.

4) Twelve of the Spurs’ 15 three-point attempts

The Spurs were the NBA’s top three-point shooting team entering the game. Tonight, they shot 13% from beyond the arc.

3) Virtually every Spur flop

Didn't work tonight Parker...

A team notorious for exaggerating contact and known for getting calls as a result found themselves coming up empty on almost every purposeful dive they took in the game.

2) Marc smothers Manu, Spurs whine about not getting timeout, Grizz win

On the final play of the game, Manu Ginobli struggled to escape Marc Gasol and heave a three-pointer in an attempt to tie the game. Gasol smothered Ginobli, and while other Spurs (mostly Tim Duncan) protested for a timeout, the clock expired and the confetti rained on the crowd.

1) Z-Bo nails three-pointer to seal win

This man shot the game winning three. Yes.

Wow was this unexpected. For everyone. with 56.7 seconds left in the game and just 2 seconds left on the shot clock, Z-Bo ripped a perfect three-pointer to put the Grizzlies up six and the game out of reach. The busted play was supposed to go to Marc Gasol inside, but when Randolph found himself open beyond the arc with the shot clock winding down, he took the shot and watched the ball drop into Grizzlies history.

Top Five “You had to be there” Moments:

5) PA announcer Rick Trotter’s late “Do you Believe?”

With 2:56 left in the game and the Spurs closing, Legendary PA announcer Rick Trotter flexed his pipes to push the crowd, and the team, with a resounding DO YOU BELIEVE! Isn’t everyone glad he decided to return to Memphis this season?

4) Volume up at 11 – Growl Towels Up!

Pictured: 11

This was unreal. Members of the media were complaining about losing their hearing. Trotter was tweeting about how no one could hear him and the Growl Towels, left on each seat for every fan, looked great.

3) Jerry Lawler pumps up fans before tip-off

The King not only used the epic phrase “pull the strap down” but also had a complete Grizzlies costume, with his crown, a #11 “King” jersey, and light blue tights. Well-played Grizz staff.

2) Memphis’ fans abject, unconditional hatred of Manu Ginobli

This man was booed more than LeBron James and Kobe Bryant put together. Maybe the fans were tired of seeing his face everywhere being touted as the reason the Grizzly’s won game one and lost game two. The hatred was so intense that when Tony Allen landed on Ginobli for a hard foul late in the game and Ginobli stayed on the ground clutching his injured shoulder, the crowd gave Allen a standing ovation.

1) Giant Eva Longoria head with Grizzlies headband enters arena, gets removed by NBA, re-enters thanks to Grizzlies, gets removed by NBA again.

Best. Joke. Ever.

So this guy, Tony Parker, he plays for the Spurs. He was married to this hot actress and… oh you know this part? Well a brilliant fan who did not want to comment or to be named brought a giant sized head of Parker’s ex-wife wearing a Grizz headband to the game. It was featured on the jumbotron early, then it was taken away by the NBA. Word was the objection was “content based.”

The Grizzlies had their lawyer scour the handbook. The head was triumphantly returned, but only for a little while, and then taken again. Still, for its brief existence, it was amazing.

Top Five Quotes:

5) Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins on the Spurs coming back
“We had ’em down and were punching them in the face and then they got up and threw a haymaker and it was tit-for-tat after that.”

4) Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich
“We played hard enough [in the second half] to win a game but unfortunately for the first 24 minutes we were just going through the paces while they were playing their asses off.”

3) Grizzlies guard Tony Allen
“Shout out to Zach Randolph. He sealed the big shot. That’s why they pay him the big bucks.”

2) Grizzlies center Marc Gasol on the final play
“[Ginobli] wasn’t trying to call timeout, he was trying to get around me and shoot the three.”

1) Grizzlies guard OJ Mayo
“This is our house, this is The Grindhouse, and if you come in here it’s going to be tough.”

Top Five Tweets:

5) @HPBasketball
WHO’S YOUR BATTIER?

4) @Peteredminston
Manu Ginobili is to FedExForum in 2011 as Andy Kaufman was to the Mid-South Coliseum in 1983.

3) @geoff_calkins
Met two orthodox jews who walked 11 miles to be here. Not allowed to drive, but didn’t want to miss game.

2) @rudygay22
All I can think of after that game is my boy Zbo !!!

1) @cerrito
The Grizzlies are only up 2. Someone find @JerryLawler and tell him now is the time to pull his strap down.

Top Five Photos:

Doug Gillon covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter@douggillon. For more live tweets during Grizzlies games follow  @memphisport@cerrito, and @chasingphoto

Crappy photos by Doug Gillon. Good ones by Chase Gustafson.

First to 100: Grizzlies tame Spurs 91-88, lead series 2-1

Z-Bo iced it. With 41.9 left in the game and 2 seconds left on the shot clock, Zach Randolph nailed an open three-pointer to put the Grizzlies up 91-85 en route to a win and a 2-1 series lead.

The sellout crowd of 18,119 was the most raucous of the Grizzlies FedExForum tenure, proudly waving their provided white “growl towels” and giving the newly nicknamed “The Grindhouse” a reason for the moniker.

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were key for the Grizzlies inside, combining for 42 of the Grizzlies 91 points. Mike Conley added 14.

Despite trailing for three quarters, a few times by more than 14, the Spurs mounted a late run in the fourth quarter, managing to force a late tie and keep the game close in the final minutes. The Grizzlies never relinquished the lead though, and Randolph’s three sealed the game.

For the Memphis crowd and the Grizzlies however, there was no losing this game. No losing a game where Jerry “The King” Lawler pumped up the crowd before tipoff. No losing a game where Tim Duncan air-balled his first free throw in the opening seconds, and no losing another playoff game in Memphis.

First to 100 is a new feature for MemphiSport.net that will appear after every Grizzlies home game. 100 or so words of the best stuff from that night’s action.

Doug Gillon covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter@douggillon. For more live tweets during Grizzlies games follow  @memphisport@cerrito, and @chasingphoto

Photo by Chase Gustafson.

MSL Grizz Party: 4.23.11

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host a special “Grizz Party” edition of MSL featuring Ryan Hamlin, aka the guy who originally coined “The Grindhouse” as the nickname for FedExForum. Plus, rap star Teflon Don stops in to talk about performing his Grizzlies jam in front of Michael Heisley, both mayors, and the entire city before Game 3 of the Grizz/Spurs series at the Hard Rock Cafe Plaza Party.

Click here to listen to the Special MSL “Grizz Party” episode from 4.23.11

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on Sports 56 WHBQ. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Show in the 2010 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.