With tonight's Grizzlies-Suns game not on television, I'm going to live blog this one. Check back here at 7 p.m. to follow along with the action.
This will be the first live blog on the new site. We'll see how it works.
Alright — I'm courtside now at FedExForum where the Grizzlies and Suns are getting ready to tip. I have to confess that I had totally forgotten that Stromile Swift now plays for the Suns.
I would love to see Stro and Darius Miles square off tonight in a historic battle in honor of the deplorable 2000 rookie draft, in which they went 2nd and 3rd, respectively. But I don't expect that to happen.
Instead, the game-within-the-game entertainment tonight will come from Marc Gasol and (please!) Hamed Haddadi matching up with Shaq Daddy.
Let's do this.
A fast-paced but sloppy game so far with six combined turnovers in under three minutes. Mayo's two right elbow threes have Griz up 6-2.
Rudy Gay thunder dunk topped by the heavyweight collision between Gasol and Shaq on the block, with Shaq drawing an offensive foul. (Shaq posterized Gasol on the following possession.)
Griz getting a little lazy in transition defense coming out of a timeout — and this is not the team to do that against.
Rudy Gay and Shaq having their own little in-game dunk contest — but Rudy can't hit anything away from the rim so far. 17-16 Suns.
Suns shooting 60% with 14 of 19 points in the paint and are driving past Griz defenders with ease. Hakim Warrick trying to check Matt Barnes on the perimeter is particularly hopeless. Still Griz holding on, 21-19.
Marko Jaric in at the point. If there's one we've learned this season (something that Minnesota Timberwolves fans could have told us), it's that dribbling is not Jaric's specialty.
Goran Dragic — yes, the great Goran Dragic — buries a three at the buzzer and the Suns end the quarter up 27-23. After a really entertaining start, this game grew a little listless once the respective mediocre-at-best benches got involved.
The Dragic-Jaric point guard battle continues into the second quarter.
Rudy Gay: 3-3 on monster dunks. 0-3 on everything else.
STRO IS IN THE GAME. You know he wants to get in on this dunkfest.
Thank you Mike Conley for making this game watchable again.
Attention college basketball fans: There has been an Alando Tucker sighting. It may not last long based on his just missing an uncontested layup.
Full starters back on both sides. 40-39 Griz. Time to ball again.
Marc Gasol pulls the chair on Shaq and the big guy hits the floor chest first. Marc Gasol = HERO.
Now that $5 Cover is about the launch, I want Craig Brewer's next project to be a semi-scripted docu-comedy about the exploits of the Grizzlies' International Big Men of Mystery center rotation. Shaq touring them around South Beach would make an awesome episode. I think ESPN2 would be interested. Let's make this happen.
Shaq lays Gasol out with one of those Hulk Hogan-style elbows. Gasol gets whistled for the foul. The natives are not amused.
Hak with back-to-back jams off Mayo and Rudy feeds. And Hamed is HYPED.
Griz take a 55-47 lead into the half.
A pretty respectable crowd tonight by this season's sorry standard. Friday night + Shaq.
How about this: 25 of Suns 47 points have been on the break.
Shaq blows an open dunk and then steps out of bounds. Comedy gold in the Forum tonight.
Very nice touch-pass from Darrell Arthur to Rudy Gay for the dunk.
Shaq blows a lay-up and then picks up the frustration foul on the other end. Maybe Shaq had too much fun in the Jungle Room last night. Griz up 63-49.
A Subject for Further Research: Mike Conley's development as a three-point shooter is the single most surprising thing about this season.
Mayo and Conley really starting to work well together in the final stretch of this season: Both can handle, pass, and shoot. So far tonight: Mayo with 18 points and 5 assists. Conley with 10 and 5. Combined 11-18 from the floor.
Griz lead it 84-68 at the end of the third.
Announced attendance tonight: 15,908. And that doesn't seem too far away from a real count.
Haddadi and Stro both check in. Who dunks on who first?
Haddadi stuffs Louis Amundson and gets called for a foul. My boy got mistreated by Violet Palmer's whistle that time. And gets it back with the soft straight-away bank shot from about 6 feet. Now there's a shot I can't remember seeing in an NBA game before.
Hamed comes out, but it's good to see him keeping up that torrid point-per-minute production: 2 minutes, 2 points.
Rudy with a little windmill dunk off a long, high Gasol outlet pass. Comes down flashing the "Stro Show." Good times, good times.
Griz up 97-81 with 5:01 to play. I demand Haddadi coming out of this timeout.
Griz stay with starters and Hak. C'mon Hollins — give Haddadi some more run.
Finally — Haddadi. Griz up 105-85 with 2:40 to go.
Immediate impact: Haddadi stuff a Robin Lopez lay-up attempt, snatches the board and gets fouled. Heading to the line now.
Down goes Haddadi! This is terrible. But he's a warrior. Looks like he'll shake it off and stay in the game.
106-89. GRIZ WIN! GRIZ WIN!
And, with that, they've torn the lid off the 22-win ceiling of the past two seasons. Get out of the way of this train, people.