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Now starting, Sam Young

 

For Grizz shooting guard Sam Young, playing time is on the upswing as he transforms into a package that fans are finding was well worth the wait.
 
 Kelley Evans

The transition from college hoops to the NBA is not always smooth sailing. Some players rarely get playing time while others flourish.

For Grizz shooting guard Sam Young, playing time is on the upswing as he transforms into a package that fans are finding was well worth the wait.

Young recently joined Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay in the starting lineup. Over 15 games he’s averaging 14.7 points.

His former coaches at the University of Pittsburgh once said that you have to let Young play. And on Monday (Feb. 7) against the Lakers at the FedExForum, Young displayed a dose of the talent that showed such confidence was not without foundation.

 
Sam Young attempts to block a shot by Lakers super star Kobe Bryant. The Lakers proved too much for the Grizzlies, winning 93-84. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)

The Grizzlies were attempting to defeat two-time defending NBA Champions for the third time this season. The Lakers were having none of that, snapping Memphis’ four-game home winning streak, 93-84.

In front of a sold out crowd (18,119), Young led the team, scoring 22 points. His spark pleased fans, teammates, coaching staff and opposing team players.

Lakers All-Star shooting guard Kobe Bryant took notice.

“He was aggressive,” Bryant said. “Not something any of us expected. He played well.”

Hollins said Young has played well since joining the starting lineup.

“I told Sam that he was going to get a lot of shots because Kobe (Bryant) was going to play off of him,” said head coach Lionel Hollins.

Selected by the Grizzlies with the 36th overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft,

Young came on board with DeMarre Carroll and Hasheem Thabeet. He has reached double figures in six of the last seven games – a feat he had accomplished only five times earlier in the season. The Grizz have won five games when Young scored 10 or more points.

The highly touted and former first round draft pick O.J. Mayo was the starting shooting guard at the beginning of the season. He later was repositioned to come off the bench with the second unit, replaced by rookie Xavier Henry, who has missed a large amount of the season with a sore right knee.

Mayo was later suspended for 10 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug program. The Grizzlies turned to Young who has proven ready.

“When you’re in a starting line-up, you gain a little confidence,” said Young. “I’m taking advantage of it. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment.”

 
 Grizz center Marc Gasol accidentally poped Ron Artest in the nose during Monday’s game at the FedExForum. (Photo by Earl Stanback)

Artest keeps his cool, with a little help, attention

If there is one player in the NBA whose volatile past will always precede him, it’s Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest.

Against Memphis on Monday (Feb. 7), Artest mostly kept his cool when he was accidentally hit in the nose by Grizz center Marc Gasol after stealing the ball off the dribble.  Artest ran from one end of the court to the other, holding his face and taking to his knees at one point.

A time out was taken and a glare shot from Artest to Gasol brought fans to their feet. Artest grabbed a towel.  Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant went over to check on him.  Lakers forward Pau Gasol, the older brother of Marc Gasol and former Grizz standout, also went to Artest’s side to diffuse the situation.

And right in the midst of the Lakers huddle was Grizz guard Tony Allen making sure that there was no misunderstanding or eruption from the mishap.

Artest returned to the floor and received an apology from Marc Gasol. What could have been a blowup was handled with maturity, poise and ease.

“It’s basketball,” Allen said.  “Stuff like that happens.”

Bryant said he was just making sure Artest was all right.

“I’m not opposed to him smacking somebody. I didn’t want him to beat up Pau’s brother,” he joked.

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