The first time the Grizzlies welcomed former head coach Dave Joerger back to Beale Street manning the sidelines for a different franchise, they were greeted with a swift kick in the butt by an amorphous Kings squad. The second time around, things went much better for the men in blue.
As is the Grizzlies pattern this season, they began the game at a snail’s pace, falling behind 9-0 before getting on the board. The Grizzlies followed the Kings hot start with a run of their own to put them briefly on top before eventually petering out near the end of an offensively unremarkable first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Grizzlies first tried to energize the offense by inserting Troy Daniels into the mix in the hope that his flame-throwing shooting arm would at the very least help spread the Kings out. His presence did lead to some solid play in the two-man game between Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Fizdale understands that Daniels’ presence on the weakside prevents teams from bringing more help into the paint to prevent Conley and Gasol from ganging up on their own defenders. However, Joerger had a nice plan in place for Daniels. Every time he touched the ball, the Kings blitzed him and forced a turnover or the ball out of his hands at the least.
More shots went down for the Grizzlies in the second quarter, particularly a notable one-legged fadeaway in the middle of the paint by Vince Carter (what’s up with old men mastering one-legged shots?). When the initial shots weren’t falling, the Grizzlies were able to crash the offensive glass and create easy offense that way that allowed the offense to slowly work its way into rhythm.
Things began to feel more like good theater than a basketball game on the offensive in the third quarter on the back of a frisky Gasol. Big Spain had fifteen points in the quarter, and he nailed three triples including two on back to back possessions. The second one was akin to one you’d take in NBA 2K in MyPlayer mode because nobody has time to pass in a video game. Gasol’s perimeter ability isn’t new at this juncture, but it’s still a breath of fresh air every time he splashes a long bomb through the net.
Defensively, the Grizzlies were locked in all night. They rebounded the ball exceptionally well, limiting the Kings to five offensive rebounds all night. The rotations continue to be sharp on the defensive end, with guys talking on screens, shifting quickly to help on drives, and closing out aggressively. The Kings didn’t get too many easy looks, and that was ultimately something they couldn’t overcome once the Grizzlies’ offense found the hot hand of Gasol.
Not a single Grizzly who played significant minutes had a poor game, and that team effort allowed the Grizzlies to sink the Kings with ease 107-91. Now 2-1 against the ex this season, the Grizzlies have one more meeting with Joerger’s squad in March.