Game 75 Notebook: Grizzlies 110, Warriors 91

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With a win tonight, the Grizzlies secured their first winning season since 2005-2006 and moved a big step closer to clinching a playoff spot. I'm breaking up the usual post-game template with a few thoughts on the night's action:

"It Was a Tale of Two Halves": If any Grizzlies game this season warranted that deliciously awful hoops-writer cliché, this may have been it.

The Grizzlies and their fans were both pretty listless in the first half — not swarming defensively and thus not generating turnovers and getting in transition. The Grizzlies were also not hitting the offensive boards and not asserting their inside game enough against a Warriors team without inside defenders to combat Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

The Grizzlies coasted through the first quarter, content with a single-digit lead, but then Warriors reserve Vladimir Radmanovic came off the bench slinging three-pointers, scoring 11 points in a five-minute stretch to get the Warriors a two-point lead that they pushed to 53-48 at the end of the second quarter. Lionel Hollins watched his team incredulously from the sideline.

Tony Allen Happened: When the Warriors scored the first five points of the third quarter to take a 10-point lead, things were looking bad for the Grizzlies. But then, as has been the case in many games this season, Tony Allen happened.

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In a span of 12 seconds, Allen darted through the lane for a lay-up then got the ball off a Sam Young steal, dribbled between his legs, and found Zach Randolph for a transition lay-up, cutting the deficit from 59-50 to 59-54 and waking the crowd up for the first time all game. The Warriors called a timeout meant to stifle this momentum, but eight seconds after play resumed, Allen picked off a David Lee pass and took it all the way for a lay-up. Over the remaining eight minutes of the quarter, Allen added three more buckets, two more steals, two defensive rebounds, and another lay-up, energizing the whole team and spurring a 29-13 run to give the Grizzlies control of the game. Heading the bench at the end of the quarter, Allen glowered at the fans, popped his jersey, and mouthed "Let's go!" You can buy the T-shirts here.

Tweet of the Game: Tony Allen : Zach Randolph :: Flava Flav : Chuck D #grizzthoughts — @tedhor

I love this so much. It's perfect. Randolph is the substance. The rock. The leading man. He's also taller and rounder and a little puffier. Allen is the prankster. The jester. The, well, the flava. He's also more wiry and physical. All we need is to get Allen a big clock medallion and Randolph a good, stiff baseball cap. I nominate Marc Gasol as Terminator X. Somebody with Photoshop skills get on this:

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Depth on Display: The Grizzlies scored 110 points tonight with Rudy Gay not playing and O.J. Mayo going scoreless. Right, it was against the Warriors, but still. The leading shot-takers were Darrell Arthur (17 points on 18 shots — not his most efficient night but still effective) and Tony Allen (a game-high 21 on 17 attempts). Meanwhile, Randolph and Mike Conley were precise: 20 points on 8-11 shooting (10 points in the fourth) to go with 13 boards and 6 assists for Randolph. Twenty points on 13 shots with seven assists and zero turnovers for Conley.

Where They Stand: With the Houston Rockets losing at Philadelphia, the Grizzlies' win tonight moved them to 42-33 and gave them a three-game cushion over the Rockets with seven games to go. If I'm doing he math correctly, the Grizzlies' magic number is now 5. And with the Portland Trailblazers losing to the New Orleans Hornets, the Grizzlies are only a single game behind both teams for the 7th and 6th slots in the West.

Looking Ahead: The Grizzlies travel to New Orleans for a big showdown with the Hornets on Friday night. Meanwhile, both the Rockets (home against the Spurs) and Blazers (home against the Thunder) are vulnerable.

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