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Grizz in good standing at the half-season break

 

Thirty-two – that’s how many games remain for the Memphis Grizzlies after Tuesday’s 89-76 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at FedExForum. The first half of the NBA season is over.

Thirty-two – that’s how many games remain for the Memphis Grizzlies after Tuesday’s 89-76 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at FedExForum. The first half of the NBA season is over and the Grizz have good playoff standing, holding the seventh spot in the Western Conference.

Many wondered whether the NBA would ever get to this point amid a lockout that delayed the season’s start to December, lopping off 16 games.

The Grizzlies are 19-15 and many players are headed to the NBA All-Star Game or they’ve made plans for rest and relaxation.  

Coming off of last year’s 46-36 regular season finish and historic playoff run and under Head Coach Lionel Hollins, Memphis has become a team that generally knows how to get things done.

 
 Marc Gasol of the Grizzlies earned his first All-Star nod when he was named to the 2012 Western Conference All-Star Team as a reserve on Feb. 9.  “I’m going to take a charge or two,” said Gasol, who was dominant in the Grizz win over Philadelphia at the FedExForum last Tuesday (Feb. 14). (Photo by Warren Roseborough)

“Any team is only as good as its weakest parts and you need everybody,” Hollins said.  “It may not be every night, but there’s a lot of nights you need everybody, and the guys who don’t play as many minutes, and don’t have the status, have to play well. And it’s not about scoring, but going about and doing their jobs, so that the other guys can perform to the level that they need to perform at and win the game.

On Feb. 20, Hollins marked his 300th game as head coach.

At the break, the Grizzlies lead the NBA in steals (10.0). They are undefeated when scoring 100 points in a game (8-0). Memphis also earned consecutive one-point home victories with tip-ins in the closing seconds on Feb. 15-16, becoming the first and only team in NBA history to record one-point home victories on consecutive nights.

Grizz Guard Mike Conley said the first half was “very good.”

“I think a lot of us don’t understand how well we’ve done for ourselves without having Zach (Randolph) there,” Conley said.  “He’s a big part of our team going forward and last season in the playoffs. With his absence, still being in the hunt and in the playoffs like we are is amazing.”

Conley said the Grizz learned last season how important the second half of the season is for a lot of teams.

“That’s why I’m happy with the momentum we have going into the All-Star break. If we continue to have that momentum and come out early in the first five or six games and really start a good streak, we’ll be putting ourselves in a good position for the rest of the season.”

Memphis is above .500 since Randolph was sidelined with a torn right MCL. Randolph, who sustained the injury on Jan. 1 at Chicago, was expected to miss six to eight seeks and will return to contact practice after the All-Star break.

“At the end of the day, we’re all pros,” said Grizz guard Tony Allen. “Losing Zach was big, we all know. We turned into a makeshift team again. We lost Rudy (Gay) last year. There’s going to be five guys on the court and no one is going to feel sorry for us. All we can do is try to hold down the fort until he gets back. From what I hear, he’s having a great recovery. We just have to be ready at all times.”

Allen, who is known for hard work and defense, plans to spend his break working and preparing for the second half of the season.

“I am going to be here shooting a lot of jump shots, a lot of layups and doing a lot of conditioning. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here in Memphis. I probably won’t go as hard, but I’ll definitely be in the gym.”

Grizz guard O.J. Mayo has sparked flames coming off the bench, scoring in double figures 23 times the first half of the season.

“Six games in nine days is tough,” Mayo said of the last few games. “We really gutted it out. We really played well down the stretch of the first half of this season. Hopefully, when we come back from the break, we’ll have guys healthy and finish it out the right way.”

When the Grizz return it will pretty much be full throttle, said Mayo.

“I hope he (Grizz All-Star Marc Gasol) enjoys his time and that everyone else enjoys it because when we come back it’s time to rev it up another notch focus-wise with our play and carry over into the postseason.”

The Grizzlies will face the NBA champions, Dallas Mavericks, on Feb. 29 at FedExForum.


 

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