The Kings make it 5 in a row

I thought I would not be able to say this all season. The Kings have now won 5 in a row! Seriously, I still can’t believe it. Two more wins last weekend.

Last Friday night at Landers Center the RiverKings continued their winning streak as they won their fourth game in a row as they edged the Huntsville Havoc 4-3.

David Wilson was steady between the pipes as he stopped 21 of 24 shots.

Then the Kings went on the road for a Sunday matchup with Columbus. This was a very close game but the RiverKings kept their winning streak alive as they squeaked by the Cottonmouths 2-1.

Kings netminder David Wilson was again steady between the pipes as he stopped 21 of 22 shots directed his way.

Up next for the Kings- Landers Center(formerly the DCC)- Saturday, January 28-The Fayetteville FireAntz are back in town…game time is 7:05pm. It’s Pack the House and National Wild Turkey Federation Jersey Night as the team will wear specially designed NWTF jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game.

Tuesday – the Surge come to town. Game time is 7:05pm- Landers Center(formerly the DCC)

 Joe Sports thoughts

What can I say? I can’t argue with five wins in a row. Believe it or not, I am the kind of person who focuses on the positive and for the Kings players this is positive.

I hope the last five victories is something the team will build on.

That’s the way I see it and I’m Joe Sports

Would you like to email Joe or is he just right all the time.

Email Joe Sports at:

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Kings win on road

 

Wonders never cease…The Kings have now won three games in a row on the road.

The Kings beat up on the FireAntz in Fayetteville last Friday night, beating them 5-2.

On Saturday in Fayetteville the Kings squeaked by the FireAntz 5-4 in overtime for their third straight victory.

The Kings other victory on the road was vs the Surge, the previous Sunday, edging them 3-2 in OT.

Here’s some news from the Kings this week.

The RiverKings announced that goaltender Scott Darling has been called up by the Wichita Thunder of the CHL. That hurts us big time.

The Kings also announced that the team has acquired forward Matt Whitehead and defenseman Tanner Hlookoff from the Fayetteville FireAntz in exchange for defenseman Chris Pontes. Terms and conditions were not released. Big moves Landmine…Big Moves.

The SPHL announced that Mark Magnowski of the RiverKings is the SBK Player of the Week for January 9-15. Good going Mark!!

News from the Past: The Kings announced Tuesday that forward Rob Sich has been removed from team suspension and subsequently released. Really !!

January 20, 2012 at 7:05 PM- Landers Center-formerly the DCC. Huntsville is in town. Then the Kings hit the road once again for a Sunday matchup with Columbus.

Joe Sports thoughts

Like I said last week, if there isn’t any changes from the top down, this season is history.

The only changes the Kings made this week was not blockbuster moves. Forward Matt Whitehead and defenseman Tanner Hlookoff from the Fayetteville FireAntz in exchange for defenseman Chris Pontes. Come on Landmine, what’s up with that?

I GUESS THE OWNER ISN’T LISTENING OR READING.

What did I say last week?

If no changes by NEXT Thursday(January 19th) then the message is clear. There truly is no accountability from those signing the paychecks.  There truly is no pride in the jersey. There truly is no hope.

That’s the way I see it and I’m Joe Sports.

Would you like to email Joe or is he just right all the time.

Email Joe Sports at:

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The Kings are staring spring in the face right now

Another week has gone by. How did last week go?  Same as every other week. One win –two defeats.

On Sunday the RiverKings won in overtime edging the Surge 3-2. The reason we won this one was  Scott Darling was outstanding between the pipes, he stopped 33 of 35 shots.

On Saturday the Kings COULDN’T PULL OFF AN OVERTIME WIN,the Huntsville Havoc edged us 4-3.

On Friday night the FireAntz beat us 5-4 in the toilet bowl.

The Antz netminder Mike Brown was unbelievable between the pipes, he stopped 39 of 43 shots directed his way.

Up next for the RiverKings…They are away this week for a doubleheader on Friday and Saturday night. They will be in Fayetteville. RiverKings vs FireAntz at 6:30. Both games will be aired on Sports 56 and America One.

Joe Sports thoughts…

The Kings’ are staring spring in the face right now.  So are their fans!  There’s so much to say and so little time.

A big part of the reason that the Kings’ are pretty much finished is because they can’t finish.  The Kings fire 10 thousand shots on goal and only score 3 goals. What they’re clearly lacking is a true “finisher”.  The coach’s job is to manage his assets.  He clearly hasn’t done that.

Two weeks notice:

If this team hits the ice next Friday(January 20th.) with the same staff in place, I will have truly given up all hope on this franchise under current ownership.

I really don’t want to see folks lose jobs but you just CANNOT permit this kind of performance without consequences. It just cannot happen. It can’t be tolerated.

Certainly not to the extent of 8 damn wins in 15 games!  I don’t think any of the other teams in this league wouldn’t have made a change by now.

Here are a few scenarios I would consider for a shakeup.  The ”  Trick”:

If no changes by NEXT Thursday(January 19th) then the message is clear. There truly is no accountability from those signing the paychecks.  There truly is no pride in the jersey.  There truly is no hope.

The playoffs and this season are a lost cause. But in the right hands, the rest of this season can be a vital tool towards making sure next season is not one.

If they reach 20 losses before they hit 11 wins I will consider that a magnificent feat.

The coach and general manager need to get the axe. There’s no way you can justify any of these people keeping their jobs.

Replace them with someone who can give it an identity from the ground up.

The way it is run right now isn’t working, and trying to pretend like it is or it will soon is just going to drive fans away.

That’s the way I see it and I’m Joe Sports.

Would you like to email Joe or is he just right all the time.

Email Joe Sports at:

[email protected]

Top Five Everything from the Grizzlies’ Game 6 win over the Thunder

The Grizzlies will not die. Not in Memphis anyway. On the back of a massive 30-13 performance by Zach Randolph, who would not be stopped by Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins or any other type of Thunder, the Grizzlies rallied from a 10-point first half deficit to keep this series going and set up the first Game 7 in franchise history.

This is the master list from that game. If 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) Loose ball frenzy

GASOL BALL!!!

Two of these were memorable. One came in the fourth quarter, about 2:51 left with the Grizz up 88-79 and looking to close the game out. A crazy rebound bounced off hands and around the floor until Shane Battier flew in like a missile attacking the hardwood to secure the ball and pass ahead to a teammate. The effort was undeniable.

Two quarters earlier, Marc Gasol had an even more amazing loose ball effort play. On another botched handle, again on the Thunder side of the court, Gasol and the much quicker Thabo Sefolosha had an equal distance between them and a ball slowly rolling toward half court. Gasol managed to scoop up the roller and call timeout without even using his body. He just got there faster.

It was that kind of effort that had been missing from the Grizzlies for about six quarters prior to the event, and that kind of effort that propelled them in this victory.

4) The best dunk that didn’t count

With about two minutes left in the third quarter and the Grizzlies finally taking the lead on what was, at that time, a 26-12 run, Darrell Arthur barreled through Nick Collison for a jam reminiscent of a Blake Griffin highlight reel or O.J. Mayo’s physics defying dunk from Game 4 against the Spurs.

It was awesome, and it didn’t count. Nick Collison managed to eek a charging foul. Didn’t look like much of a call to most of the crowd, who didn’t realize the basket was null until they finished cheering for the spectacular dunk.

3) Tony Allen finishes a fast break

For more than three games now, the Grizzlies have struggled finishing and defending fast breaks. It’s been murder for them in this series and in direct contrast with their execution on such possessions in the regular season.

Well in the third quarter the Grizz started executing on those fast breaks. The change was a big part of the third quarter run, and none more memorable than an easy finish from Tony Allen.

With 9:40 left in the quarter, Tony Allen grabbed a fast break pass and dropped it in for a soft two-handed jam to extend the half-opening run to 6-0 and force a Thunder timeout. After a full game and two quarters of blown breaks and missed layups, it was a sign that the Grizzlies were becoming the Grizzlies again.

2) O.J. Mayo’s and-one

Did you know Juice can roar?

Lionel Hollins finally brought O.J. Mayo back into the starting lineup, and Juice made the most of it. Mayo finished with 16 points 4 rebounds 2 assists and 4 steals. Mayo nailed two three pointers, but none were as memorable as his fearless three-point play in the third quarter.

With 2:10 left in the period, Mayo dove into the lane and used his body like a heat seeking missile programmed for Kevin Durant’s torso. Mayo was able to convert the basket, get a whistle and latch a third foul onto Kevin Durant. The drive plus the free throw gave the Grizzlies their first lead since the first quarter at three points. It was neutralized seconds later on Durant’s only FG of the second half (which was also an and-one), but the tide had turned permanently.

1) Ibaka can’t deal with Z-Bo

Don't you know who I am? You must not know who I am.

If Mayo’s and-one was the turning point (and it was) Z-Bo’s fourth quarter performance was the foot on the neck, or the nail in the coffin, or chair in the back, or some other cliche.

Randolph massacred every Thunder big down the stretch. Mayo’s extra minutes had helped. Z-Bo had space and he made the Thunder pay by going back to the so-ugly-its beautiful layups and juggernaut post moves that have made him the darling of the city and the go-to-guy on the team.

The most memorable move came just before O.J.’s and-one, tying the game. Matched up one-on-one with Serge Ibaka about three feet from the paint, Z-Bo finalized his dominance over the big with a pivot, bump, pivot, bump, 360 pivot and lay-in that just said “You’re done #9. Accept it.”

Top Five “You had to be there” Moments

5) Christopher

Seriously. This happened.

Does non-halftime entertainment get crazier than Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey? Apparently yes. In between the first and second quarters, the Grizzlies brought out “Christopher” (seriously this is how he was introduced) who was a one-man version of the Village People. See the picture above for proof. He performed to a village people medley. Wild.

4) Flood Video

Want to love Memphis enough to almost cry? Watch this video.

The Grizzlies have been knocking out the pre-game intro videos, but they sent the whole thing to another level by adding that vid to the normal one that plays before the player introductions. Perfect. Perfect. Seriously watch it.

3) Fun with signs, giant heads

Definitely a step up from the last game. One highlight was “We Believe Hell or High Water,” a theme also used in the updated signs for BBQ Fest.

Taking the cake though was, again, Section 116, the kings of the giant heads, who this time showed up with a Barack Obama head wearing a Grizz headband in honor of Booker T. Washington High School having won the opportunity to have Obama speak at their graduation. The high school’s achievement and the head in attendance were featured on the jumbotron in the second half.

2) Al Green’s National Anthem

Yes this is Al Green.

How do you follow up an amazing National Anthem from the NBA’s best PA announcer Rick Trotter? Book Al Green. The Memphis legend absolutely nailed the anthem, because he’s Al Green! He could sing it again tomorrow and nail it again. If the Grizzlies get another home game they’ll have to book Justin Timberlake. And even then the singing probably wouldn’t be as good.

1) Jerry ‘The King” Lawler

Strap didn't even need to be down.

Very important stat: The Grizzlies are 3-0 in the playoffs when Jerry “The King” Lawler shows up to pump up the Grindhouse crowd. This time was the best. Just as the Grizzlies were starting their third quarter run (at this point it was at 6-0) Lawler slammed a chair into the back of a faux OKC fan and covered the body with a yellow growl towel. He then noted that, “It’s time for the Grizzlies to put the chair on the Thunder!”

Top Five Quotes

5) Zach Randolph on playing in game seven
“That’s what it’s all about. It’s what we play for. I’d rather be playing now than on vacation or anything else. We have to be ready. It’s going to be a tough game going into their place. They’ll be ready, their fans will be ready, but we’ll be ready also.”

4) Marc Gasol on not wanting to let the series end in Memphis
“We don’t want to go out at all. Not that way or any other way.”

3) O.J. Mayo on starting
“All year I’ve just been trusting in coach Hollins and staying behind whatever he says 120%. It’s a big responsibility to come in and start, you gotta make an impact fast. I just tried to do the best I could.”

2) Shane Battier on Al Green’s performance
“That was pretty sweet. He’s a big reason why my wife and I got married”
 

Note: Before anyone misunderstands this (as it seems to happen with Shane’s musings) he was referring to the man’s music.

1) Lionel Hollins on Kevin Durant only making one FG in the second half
“He’s saving himself for Sunday. He had some good looks but just didn’t make them. We can’t take credit for that.”

Top Five Tweets

5) @Grizzinmypants
I was planning on watching Thor tomorrow, but when I found he was the god of Thunder, I knew the movie would blow. #GoGrizz

4)@PeterEdminston
DA JUST MURDERED NICK COLLISON. JAYHAWK ON JAYHAWK CRIME

3) @bharris901
When Tony Allen hits a corner 3-pointer, it’s like finding $20 in your pocket.

2) @ShaneBattier
What a fantastic crowd at the Forum tonight. They propelled us to the win. Quick turnaround for Sunday. Uno Mas!!!!!! Mucho Believe-o!!!

1) @PatForde
Market size is irrelevent. This is fun basketball from Memphis tonight.

Top Five Photos

Still hungry for more from the Grizzlies’ payoff run? Check out the Top 5 Everything from the Grizzlies’ Triple Overtime Loss to the Thunder in Game 4, the Top 5 Everything from the Grizzlies’ Game 3 Overtime Win Over the Thunder , or our Game 1 recap.

Also take a look back at the historic series with the San Antonio Spurs by checking out the Top Five Everything from Game 6, the Top Five Everything from Game 4, the Top Five Everything from Game 3, or our take on the Game 1 win.

For more Playoff fun, check out Shane Battier proves young people no longer  watch Animal House MSL presents “Have Grizzlies PA announcer Rick Trotter say whatever you like”, Jerry “The King” Lawler talking Grizzlies on MSL, Traveling NBA super fan James Goldstein on MSL,  and the 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

Photos by Chase Gustafson.



Shane Battier proves young people no longer watch “Animal House”

Battier, one of the great social scientists of our age.

About 8:40 p.m. CST Shane Battier (@ShaneBattier) tweeted the following:

“Over?? What?? Nothing is over until we say it’s over….was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor??? When the going gets tough…….”

This was, of course, a reference to both the Grizzlies current position of being down 3-2 in the best of 7 series with Oklahoma City, and to the classic movie “Animal House,” in which uber-screwup Bluto attempts to rally the troops in a time of dire straights. It shouldn’t have been unexpected, Battier is the same guy who referenced “The Big Lebowski” when he was stuck in an elevator last week.

Well… you know the internet. Apparently not content with Battier’s explanatory tweet that he was “fully aware of who bombed pearl harbor,” twitter nerds (or not nerds, because they didn’t see the movie?) lunged at their opportunity to call out a person who has two things (a diploma from Duke and an NBA career) of which they are jealous.

Some highlights (which were retweeted by Shane himself)

@ShaneBattier umm….. not sure but i think japan bombed pearl harbor. and u graduated from duke???
@ShaneBattier really? Germans bombed pearl harbor? Were did you go to school?
@ShaneBattier tweeted that the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. Come on son! I bet Hamed knows it was the Japanese! You went to Duke!

@ShaneBattier the germans didnt bomb pearl harbor dumbass… im glad u left my city…. #thundervsheat

Hey but that’s the internet. It will recklessly jump to assault you like the idiot you are while being completely unaware of it’s own stupidity.

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.

Top Five Everything from the Grizzlies’ Triple Overtime loss to the Thunder in Game 4

The blue bears of Memphis have had several “greatest game in history” games, and most of them end with the fans, the players and coach Hollins smiling a little wider.

This one didn’t though. It dragged, on and on and on, and eventually the Thunder were the last team standing.

This is the master list from the Monday/Tuesday Marathon. You can find a more traditional recap here.

As always these are real things that happened in a real game…

 

Top Five Basketball Moments

Notables:

Effort.

In a game this long and this tough, it’s nearly impossible to just pick out five moments that were special for the home team. O.J. Mayo played fantastic minutes and hit some huge shots to finish with 18 points. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, especially Randolph, battled as best he could underneath – finishing with 34 and 26 points. Randolph had 16 rebounds and Gasol had 21, tying the franchise playoff record set by Randolph on Saturday night. The bigs being dominantly productive has become so expected and their production so consistent that the more memorable moments have been coming from the guys who DON’T normally step up big. The following list is a result of that, but the bigs need their due.

5) The first 20 game minutes

About four hours before the final buzzer, the Grizzlies were steamrolling the Thunder en route to a lead that ballooned to 18-points halfway through the second quarter. The game started with an 8-0 Grizzly run. Gasol finished the quarter with 12-points, which matched the Grizzly advantage at the end of that quarter.

At that point the Thunder only had 16 points. Early fouls on Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka made it difficult for the Thunder to play as tough underneath, and Randolph and Gasol took advantage. Even Hamed Haddadi was able to come in again and out muscle the Thunder for two rebounds and two blocked shots during the stretch. Looked like the Grizzlies would roll.

4) Shane Battier’s put back

Yeah, now fast-forward two or more hours. What you missed that won’t be covered below: a constant drag-out foul fest in which Kendrick Perkins temper flared so loudly that it extended to an Oklahoma City fan that had to be removed from the arena, Scott Brooks going small and watching his team chip away at the Grizzlies lead and come within 4 at the half, the Thunder eventually take the lead in the third quarter, then the teams battling back-and-forth before miracles started happening.

In the second overtime period, this was the Grizzlies second-to-last real step on the gas. With 1:49 left, Battier missed short on a wide-open corner three, but was able to get his own rebound and put the ball back in to give the Grizzlies a lead again at 114-112.

3) Greivis diving and-one

Drive.

And the was the last big step on the gas, happening just afterward. Vasquez, who could have had the name “huevos” on the back of his jersey for all his production, fearlessly drove at a wall of Oklahoma City bigs that hadn’t been called for a foul in almost a century, and somehow floated in a layup and finally drew a foul call.

He made the free throw, giving the Grizzlies a three-point lead with 1:22 left in the second overtime.

Despite excellent defense on the following possession, Oklahoma City’s James Harden made a three on the next possession. It was that kind of game.

2) Mike Conley three-pointer

Heart.

After number five, but necessary to get to numbers three and four, were two miracle shots. The first came from Mike Conley.

After Kendrick Perkins missed two potentially game-winning free throws, the Grizzlies chose not to take a timeout as Mike Conley rambled up the floor and made a desperation three-point shot over two Oklahoma City defenders to tie the game with 3.5 left and give Grizzly, OKC and NBA fans everywhere a collective heart attack.

On the following possession the Thunder could not convert, and the game went to overtime.

1) Greivis’ three-pointer

Which is where this happened. Conley quickly fouled out at the start of the first extra period, and late in the game with the Grizzlies down one, so did O.J. Mayo. In came Sam Young and Greivis Vasquez.

With Conley and Mayo out and the team down three in the final seconds, again, who would shoot the three?

You know who it was it says it right up there. Vasquez’ three was even more insane than Conley’s. Off-balance, ugly, looking like he was trying more to get a foul call than make the shot, it dropped in. Game tied. OKC can’t covert and everyone moved to OT 2.

 

Top Five “You had to be there” Moments

5) The “Z-Bo Gasp”

wwoooOOO

There’s a crazy thing that happens in a packed NBA arena when a bona fide superstar gets the ball and starts to work one-on-one. It’s this collective gasping roar of anticipation that slowly builds until the star player takes a shot.

In FedExForum, the superstar gasp usually was only heard on the first few possessions by LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. Never really heard it for Durant. Carmelo Anthony got about half of one.

But ever since the playoffs started this year in Memphis, Zach Randolph has gotten that gasp from the crowd every time he’s matched up one-on-one near the basket.

It’s something you just have to hear in person, and it’s something the hardest working player on the team has certainly earned.

4) Rick Trotter’s National Anthem

Within hours of this post, this will be Rick Trotter's desktop wallpaper.

It’s no secret that we love Rick Trotter at MemphiSport. It’s hard not to – especially when the famed Grizzlies PA announcer keeps adding to his legend in the way he did to start this game.

Trotter absolutely nailed the National Anthem – best one of the year – and then somehow was able to deliver his pre-game team introductions, have witty conversations on twitter and discover a source of efficient, renewable energy.

Trotter deserves extra credit for a few other things at the game, including his pregame heckling of fans on the jumbotron who were not wearing their free white t-shirts for the White Out.  Plus he never – ever lost an iota of energy during the marathon session that include the three overtimes. The man is a city treasure.

3) The almost non-stop “Let’s go Grizzlies” chants of the final two hours

They never gave up.

For the fourth quarter and the first two overtimes, the crowd was right there with him. There was no problem with crowd energy in this one, they were on their feet from the start, and only lost some moxie when the Thunder made it impossible not to do so.

The “refs u suck” made a few re-appearances, but “Let’s Go Grizzlies” ruled the arena for an amount of time that can have no other repercussion other than about 18,000 people going to work hoarse tomorrow.

2) Double collective heart-attacks

Yeah so the plays are described above, kind of, but the emotion of watching those two shots drop, hearing the roof come off the place, it was surreal.

If a building was ever going to actually explode from noise, from emotion, from the unlikely happening, from 18,119 people being rewarded because they believed, it would have happened then. It was the whole of why we love sports.

After Greivis’ shot, WMC sportscaster Jarvis Greer whipped a yellow growl towel around his head while screaming “This is while we built this building!”

He couldn’t contain it. No one could. No one could believe all that was happening.

1) Final Standing Ovation

Despite it all – all the heroics, all the miracles, and all the noise, it became clear about halfway through the third overtime that the Grizzlies just didn’t have enough to finish it out. Really it became clear at the end of OT 2, when Randolph and Gasol had several shots to tip-in what could have sealed a win, but the bigs were too tired, and over shot and over tipped.

At the start of OT 3, about 5-10% of the crowd started to head out. It was almost 12:30 and about two game minutes later, more joined them.

But plenty of fans stayed. About 30% of the crowd hung around until the final buzzer, and even though the scoreboard favored OKC, they gave the home team a standing ovation for the relentless heart, grit and grind they showed for more than four hours. Not a slow clap. Better.

 

Top Five Quotes

5) Marc Gasol
“I think we could have done better but nobody is perfect. We tried our best; effort was there… no one can be mad at themselves. We tried our best.”

4) Mike Conley on the end of regulation three
“I had to take it. I had a feeling I was going to get a good look, and it went in.”

3) Lionel Hollins
“Nobody wanted to go home. Nobody wanted to lose.”

2) O.J. Mayo
“We’ll be alright man. It’s a tough loss, it’s almost one o’clock in the morning now, but we’re gonna go home, get our rest and come back ready.”

1) Greivis Vasquez on his shot at the end of OT 1
“I will trade that shot for a win any day. I would trade every single thing I did and every single thing I can for a win tonight.”

 

Top Five Tweets

5) @GaryParrishCBS
If there’s a fourth OT, I say we play it at Club 152.

4) @ChrisMannixSI
Hamed Haddadi acknowledging fans during timeout. Like a Presidential candidate pointing to the crowd.

3) @GregAkers
Chris Vernon owes Mike Conley a shirt design.

2) @Eli560
Guy in a Perkins jersey getting kicked out. Apparently just wearing the jersey makes you angry

1) @johnhollinger
Ref: “Stop” Perk: “YOU stop” Tech.

 

Top Five Photos

Still hungry for more from the Grizzlies’ payoff run? Check out the Top 5 Everything from the Grizzlies Game 3 Overtime Win Over the Thunder , our Game 3 recap, or our Game 1 recap. Also take a look back at the historic series with the San Antonio Spurs with the Top Five of Game 6, our Game 6 recap, the Top Five Everything of Game 4, our Game 4 recap, the Top Five Everything of Game 3, our Game 3 recap, our take on the Game 1 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

Photos by Chase Gustafson.


First to 100: Grizzlies run out of miracles, fall to Thunder 133-123 in Game 4

Forty eight minutes were not enough in Memphis – again. This time however, despite two miraculous three-pointers, one from Grievis Vasquez and one from Mike Conley, the Grizzlies were unable to close out the game as the Thunder outlasted the Grizzlies in the third overtime.

After the Grizzlies relinquished an early lead that was as big as 18 points, the Thunder stormed back late in the second quarter and earned their own 10-point lead late in the fourth. Improbably, the Grizzlies rallied and Conley set up the first extra period with a miracle three at the close of the fourth.

The first overtime featured another big Thunder lead, but the Grizzlies made yet another improbable comeback and tied the game at the end of that period with a miracle shot from Greivis Vasquez. Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo both fouled out.

The second overtime saw the Grizzlies finally retake the lead, but also show major signs of fatigue. The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook was able to force another tie and the game went to the final period.

In the last overtime the Grizzlies were just exhausted. Vasquez and the Grizzlies bench fought valiantly, but it wasn’t enough.

The game lasted more than four hours, going from 8:30 pm to 12:40 am local Memphis time. The series is now tied 2-2 as both teams head to Oklahoma City for Game 5 on Wednesday.

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.

Top Five Everything from the Grizzlies’ Game 3 OT Win over the Thunder

These headlines are really getting too long – might be about time to rename the series.

This is the master list from the greatest comeback in Grizzly history (going on quality not quantity). It was a weird one. Zach Randolph posted a 21-21 game, but this post is mostly going to be about O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen with a pinch of Sam Young. It was just like that.

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) Tony Allen puts Thunder bigs in foul trouble

Do not underestimate Tony's tenacity.

In the fourth quarter, the crowd had finally showed up and the Grizzlies were showing signs of life. Tony Allen pushed that momentum with 7:31 left in the game with his trademark hustle and tenacity.

The series started with a steal by Allen, who drove fast to the basket and drew a hard foul. Allen missed his second free-throw, but tracked down a hot potato rebound and drove again. Again Allen missed the layup, but drew a foul and went 1 of 2 from the charity stripe.

The big thing about this, aside from how it showed a continuing change in momentum in which the Grizzlies were the harder working team, was that the two foulers on Allen were Thunder bigs Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. Perkins would eventually foul out in overtime and Ibaka finished with five fouls. Allen propelled them to that fate in about 7 game seconds.

The extra fouls meant the Thunder big men could not play as aggressively underneath as they had in game two and for most of this game. It opened up lanes for Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo drives, and space for Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph late in the fourth and in overtime.

4) Three straight one point possessions somehow take a two-point lead.

Getting only one of two free throws plagued the Grizz in the fourth quarter, but their fourth quarter defense was so stout, that the team was able to tie the game and take a two-point advantage with less than a minute left on three straight one-point possessions.

It went pretty much the same way for each. The Thunder set up on offense and turned the ball over. The Grizzlies ran out on a fast break and were fouled while attempting the layup. The foulee would make only one free throw. This happened three times in a row because in the fourth quarter the Grizzlies became the great wall, and the Thunder the Mongolians.

3) O.J Mayo’s hustle

Mayo didn't have the biggest statistical day, but he made the W happen.

“Juice” kept the Grizzlies in this game. Lost in this story of the Grizzlies amazing comeback is how terrible the team played in order to dig themselves into a 16-point hole at the start of the fourth.

If not for Mayo, the hole could have been 25. Mayo sparked the team in the first quarter with eight points in four minutes, propelling the Grizzlies to a 22-20 lead in the period. Later in the game he made crucial threes during the Grizzlies’ fourth quarter run.

Even more impressively, Mayo defended the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, one of the league’s elite scorers, and shut him down. Westbrook only managed two points in the closing minutes. Lionel Hollins said he made the switch to allow Conley to get some rest on defense, and Mayo’s performance allowed that switch to stay and benefit the Grizz.

2) Going Small

Sometimes smaller is better.

If not for the chaos of the number one selection here, this would have to be it. This changed the game.

Coming out in the fourth quarter, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins sat his two bigs, the heart of his team’s offense, and went with a small lineup of Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Shane Battier, Darrell Arthur and Sam Young.

The move was different. The Grizzlies are a big team, they outmuscle their competition with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Problem was, Gasol and Randolph were struggling underneath and getting themselves out muscled. Early in the game Hollins countered with Hadaddi, who played admirably in limited action. But it wasn’t the answer.

The Thunder were insanely aggressive underneath, poking at dribbles, pushing and shoving for rebounds, and preventing Gasol or Randolph from getting into any kind of rhythm.

So Hollins tried letting the small guys to run around what had become a cage match under the basket and it worked. The small lineup was able to begin closing the gap on the Thunder while clamping down defensively and wearing down the Thunder bigs.

By the time Gasol and Randolph returned halfway through the fourth quarter, Perkins, Ibaka and Collison had more fouls, less energy, and less moxie. Z-Bo took advantage en route to the 21-21 monster stat game he posted, and the entire quarter set up the Grizzlies’ ability to roll in overtime.

Monster STAT: Once the Grizzlies went small, they outscored the Thunder 40-17 in the final 19 minutes. That’s the fourth quarter and overtime.

1) Sam Young’s ALL CAPS DUNK

No other way to describe it. This was the moment everyone in the arena, who started the game with enthusiasm to match the “whiteout” name of the game’s t-shirt promotion (hint: there wasn’t much) but had, at this point, come back into the contest with some energy as things began to look desperate.

Sam Young took that energy and slammed it right down Daequan Cook and Nick Collison’s throats. Young took a pass from Battier and, after a pump fake, found himself looking at a clear lane to the basket from 18 feet out. Young drove for the huge jam that brought the Grizzlies  within 7 with 9:20 left. At this point the crowd, and the Grizzlies, believed again.

Top Five “You had to be there” Moments

5) Penny Hardaway wins tater tots for everyone

Pretty self-explanatory here. Three-point shooting contest, one made three from someone in attendance in 30 seconds wins tots for everyone. Crowd gets to pick who the shooter is, Penny Hardaway happens to be one of the choices. He makes the second bucket and everything is rainbows, because Memphis loves Penny.

4) Fun with signs, disasters

This may have been the weakest sign night of the playoffs, but that says more for the quality of the previous nights than lack of effort in this one.

Some highlights included a “Marc > Pau” sign, and several signs making variations on the “we’ve survived a damn flood, what’s a little thunder” joke.

3) #“REFS U SUC!”

Considering the free throw differential (44 attempts for Memphis, 23 for OKC), this seems an unlikely chant. But it happened, and in a big way. After a third traveling no-call on OKC (it’s not nice to complain about this stuff, but all three were blatant) that was followed by a technical foul called on Zach Randolph late in the third quarter, the crowd, which had started to flirt with the idea of again being a factor in these playoffs, started the loud, unlikely chant.

“REFS YOU SUCK! REFS YOU SUCK!” Had to be coming from every person in The Grindhouse based on the volume.

Even this kid.

The crowd would not go away after that, although they had not yet reached their apex. For those moments see: dunk, Sam Young and Buzzer, final.

2) “Let’s Go Grizzlies!”

Not nearly as spontaneous or unexpected for most games, but somewhat for this one after three quarters of antiseptic from those in attendance. These chants went on so long and so enthusiastically that the unison began to break down from the echo. The chant continued like a round. So row, row row your boat, except with Grizz fever.

1) Growl Towel display

 

 

 

Normal towel use.

 

First, the whiteout kind of sucked. It sucked in Miami this year and last year and it sucked in Memphis on Saturday. It’s stupid. It looks stupid. in person and on television. It has a stupid name. There is nothing cool about it. Stop with the passing out of one color t-shirts. It’s garbage. Motion is lost in the sea of a single color.

Growl Towels on the other hand, highlight both a team color and the motion and enthusiasm of the crowd. They are AWESOME. Normally the proper display method of the growl towel is an elbow-based circular motion that whips the towel like a helicopter above the head of the fan.

But not late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. Especially during those three consecutive one-point possessions, the proper growl towel display was a straight hang, slightly above head, with the words “Believe Memphis” staring down on the audacious visiting team and pledging staunch support for the man at the line and the blue-collar team on the floor.

 

 

 

Clutch Towel Use

 

 

It was movie stuff. Couldn’t have been scripted better.

Top Five Quotes:

5) Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins
“I had preached to my guys all year long that it’s not over until there’s zero on the clock. We were dead in the water, and we needed to do something to get some energy. WE went small. You’re just trying.”

4) Grizzlies guard Sam Young
“It doesn’t always work the way you plan it, but a W is a W. I think that we played our best and when the time came everyone dug deep and we clawed this one out.”

3) Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo
“It’s like coach told us, tonight we needed the perimeter to step up big and help out the bigs. We’ve definitely got one of the best front lines in the NBA, that’s the bread and butter of our team, but we’re a team, and we all have to contribute.”

2) Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph on his “sulking” which was heavily talked about on the ESPN broadcast:
“Yeah I was ticked off. I was mad at myself. But I don’t let it carry over. I might get mad Monday you never know, I’m always getting mad at myself. Doesn’t mean anything except that I got to figure out something better to do.”

1) Grizzlies guard Tony Allen on the team going small:
“That was coach of the year type stuff. [Hollins] is a genius for that.”

Top Five Tweets

5) @ricktrotter
OJ’s end of quarter speech deserves a parental advisory label. I love the passion! #gogrizz

4) @sylamore1
WHAT the hell? Now announcers are saying Randolph “threw Ibaka to ground.” Replay obv shows him turn ankle and fall in to Zbo. HACKs

3) @johnhollinger
hollins was protesting to Mauer b/c he didn’t realize Mauer called a charge. Then attempted to high-5 him when informed of call.

2) @cerrito
The Grindhouse crowd sings “Whoomp There It Is” much better than they do the National Anthem.
 

Note: the crowd was invited to sing the National Anthem along with a Navy band to start the game. Thankfully, Grizzlies PA announcer Rick Trotter will take over singing the anthem on Monday.

1) @flyergrizzblog
Instead of waving the towels down the stretch, fans have been holding them up in defiance, showing “BELIEVE” logo. Cool.

Top Five Photos

Still hungry for more from the Grizzlies’ payoff run? Check out the game one recap, or from the Spurs’ series: Top Five of Game 6 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

Photos by Chase Gustafson.


First to 100: Grizzlies claw to beat Thunder 101-93 in OT, lead series 2-1

Call it the biggest comeback in franchise history. Not by numbers, but by magnitude. Facing a 16-point deficit going into the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies outscored the Thunder 23-10 in the period to force overtime, and started the extra minutes with a 6-0 run that put the Thunder away and the Grizzlies up 2-1 in the series.

For most of the game, the Grizzlies didn’t look like the hardest working team in the NBA. O.J. Mayo, who finished with 18 points off the bench, kept the Grizzlies in the game, but the team and the crowd looked lethargic until late in the third quarter. The bigs were getting outmuscled underneath, and the Grizzlies were getting out hustled.

The amazing fourth quarter run was sparked by a small lineup which countered the Thunder’s physicality with quickness. Tony Allen was able to force fouls on both Thunder bigs in one possession. The added Grizzly speed sparked the run.

The Grizzlies closed and took a two-point lead with three straight one-point possessions that came from 1/2 trips to the charity stripe. Two late free throws by Russell Westbrook kept the game tied with less than a minute. Kevin Durant and Zach Randolph were unable to make attempts to win the game, and it went to overtime.

But by then there was no stopping the Grizzly tide.  The crowd wasn’t going away, and neither were the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph had finally gotten rolling thanks to the Thunder bigs being in foul trouble. He finished with 21 points and 21 rebounds and dominated extra time. The Thunder only managed 7 points to the Grizzlies 15 in the final five minutes, extending their late-game breakdown to 18 minutes.

The Grizzlies play next at FedExForum on Monday. They lead the best of seven series 2-1.

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.

 

First to 100: Grizzlies quiet Thunder, 114 – 101, take 1-0 series lead

Again, no one thought the Memphis Grizzlies would win game one on the road. Again, they did. This time just 36 hours after the biggest win in franchise history. And this time, no miracle three-point shots were needed.

No, the Grizzlies won this game the old-fasioned way, with dominating play from their two big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who combined for 54 points and 13 rebounds. Randolph’s 34 points are a new Grizzlies’ playoff record, and were the most of any player in the game.

Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant scored 33 and Russell Westbrook added 29 in a losing effort.

The Grizzlies were able to jump out with a small lead early, but took control of the game in the second quarter and went into the half with a double-digit lead. The Thunder had a few runs in which they came as close as 1 point, but were never even able to even tie the game.

The Thunder just couldn’t find an answer for Randolph and Gasol, who rolled right through single defensive coverage that was soft compared to the physicality of the Spurs. Oklahoma City did not even start double-teaming the two Grizzlies bigs until late in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late.

Other notable players for the Grizzlies were Shane Battier, Mike Conley and Tony Allen who all scored in double figures.

The Grizzlies next game is Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in Oklahoma City. The next home game takes place Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Both game 3 and 4 at FedExForum are already sold out.

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.