Finding a new identity means trying a little bit of a lot of different things. And the Memphis Grizzlies know just how to re-adjust.
Finding a new identity means trying a little bit of a lot of different things. And the Memphis Grizzlies know just how to re-adjust. That’s the synopsis after Tuesday’s (March 27) home win against the Minnesota Timberwolves (93-86) at the FedExForum.
| Maurice Speights of the Grizzlies (right) out hustles Kevin Love (left) and Marvel Webster of the Timberwolves. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)|
| A slap on the arm couldn’t keep Rudy Gay from scoring on this attempt against the Timberwolves. Wayne Ellington was charged with a foul.|
| Gilbert Arenas has signed on for the stretch run.|
In the Lakers game, Memphis led most of the way. Seven Grizzlies scored in double figures, led by Rudy Gay with 18 points, Mike Conley with 13 and the team’s big defender, Tony Allen. with 12. Marreese Speights was re-inserted into the starting lineup until Zach Randolph (10 points, 12 rebounds) can work himself back to 100 percent.
Forward Dante Cunningham clocked in one minute.
What’s the relevance in that stat?
Well, getting back to Tuesday’s game, Cunningham was the difference maker, amassing 40 minutes, scoring 13 points and leading the team with 14 rebounds.
With Grizz center Marc Gasol out with a sore right ankle, Speights started at center and Cunningham was inserted into the starting lineup at power forward.
“I was ready when he called me,” Cunningham said. “You just have to stay ready.”
Speights said he and Cunningham had a pre-game conversation.
“Dante (Cunningham) and I went out there this morning and said we were going to go out there and play as hard as we can and see the outcome,” Speights said. “This is the NBA, so when your key guys go out, somebody else has to step up and be given the opportunity to play.”
Grizz head coach Lionel Hollins said Cunningham was ready and had a great game.
“I didn’t want to move Zach (Randolph) to the starting lineup. I like Zach coming off the bench right now until he is fully conditioned and back to playing. He is not able to go at people the way he wants to go at them, but he’s a force out there,” said Hollins.
“We had 14 offensive rebounds and 25 second chance points. The second chance points were a season high for us. We were able to hang around because we weren’t doing very much offensively, but we held them to 38 percent shooting for the game. When you hold them to 38 percent, stop them from making all the threes and beat them on the glass as well, then you’ve had a steady game defensively.”
Randolph said he puts the team first.
“It’s just a process,” he said. “It’s coming along. I have to take time out to get back to old my old self.”
Randolph showed pride in his teammates, mentioning that Speights and Cunningham stepped up and have been holding down the fort.
The Grizzlies fought back from an up-and-down game and in the end they got into rhythm. Gay led the Grizzlies with 21 points followed by Speights. who pitched in 18 points.
Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love led all scorers with 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
“When I was out there, I felt an offensive rhythm,” Love said. “They (Memphis) got even more into a rhythm in the last three minutes of that quarter (third) as a driving force… into the fourth quarter.”
Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman said the Grizzlies defend very well.
“They try to take you out of your rhythm,” Adelman said. “At the end of that third quarter, I decided to give Kevin (Love) about three minutes rest there, and they closed the gap and took the lead.”
The Grizz’s newly acquired point guard Gilbert Arenas didn’t see any playing time during his first home game.
“There was nothing that Gil (Gilbert Arenas) did that took him back to the bench,” Hollins said. “We were struggling chemistry-wise and rhythm-wise. I decided that I was going back to the guys that had been here and were playing. Pargo had been playing, and playing pretty good from two games before I inserted Gil at his spot. I just wanted to get Gil in and get his feet wet.”
While it is going to take some time, the Grizzlies will still need Arenas to win games,” said Hollins.
“That was the reasoning for Zach going back to the bench and for Gil going back to the bench.”
Arenas agreed that he’s not quite ready. Still, he’s excited to get out and compete. He was sitting on the couch not expecting to work at all this season when the call came in from the Grizz, said Arenas.
“The team is good. All the guys are good guys and that’s what I’m trying to build on,” he said.
“I’m just hoping for practice. I’m ready to get my legs under me, get the rhythm of the game, learn the plays and learn the players. I’m behind right now.”
Griz note: Rookie Josh Selby has been sent back to the Developmental League to gain more playing time.