The Memphis Grizzlies scored 43 points in one quarter on Sunday night against the L.A. Clippers. The following night, the Grizz scored 42 in a half but used defense and strong three-point shooting to climb back from a 25-point lead to beat the Seattle Sonics in Memphis third straight preseason victory.
Before the game head coach Sydney Lowe said, Were looking for several things in the first couple of ballgames. We want to see how guys work together, can we finish guys [at the end of the game]. Which group is better at the end of the ball game. Lowe even went so far as to say, There might be a situation where we need another guy [off the bench]. So we have to see who fits best with the other four guys.
For any who follow the career of new Grizzlies point guard Jason Williams, it would seem a thinly veiled threat to bench Williams in the fourth and with the game on the line. Williams must have heard the challenge from the coach, scoring 10 fourth-quarter points, including three clutch three-pointers to get the Grizzlies ahead with only seconds left in the game. Williams would finish with 14 points and five assists.
As to his reaction to the big shots, Williams was characteristically nonchalant. I made a couple of shots, he said. Its not the end of the world. Its not the beginning. Hopefully, we can be in that position again and Ill do the same thing.
Also adding to the late-game barrage was rookie forward Shane Battier, who knocked down three treys of his own in the fourth quarter. Battier nailed all five of his three-point attempts, ending the game with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Battiers fellow rookie, Pau Gasol, continued his offensive improvement with 17 points to lead all Memphis scorers. Center Lorenzen Wright scored 12 points of his own but also pulled in 13 rebounds. Also of note, shooting guard Michael Dickerson scored 15 points.
The Grizzlies enjoyed their offensive output but also made use of key defensive stops throughout the game as they collected a healthy 14 team steals and eight blocked shots. Guard Brevin Knight led the defensive effort with seven of those steals. Knight also contributed 12 points on the other end of the floor.
Seattle forward Rashard Lewis led all scorers with a 24-point effort. The Sonics also enjoyed productive guard play with Gary Payton scoring 19 points and Brent Barry scoring 18 points. The loss places the Sonics' record at 1-3 in preseason play.
The win puts Memphis at 3-0 for its inaugural preseason. While the real season is still in the future, the squad shows resilience and difficulty accepting loss. The team will play its final home preseason game against the Miami Heat on Thursday, October 17th, at The Pyramid.