ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol grew up between Barcelona and Memphis, where his older brother Pau was playing basketball. And while Marc also gravitated toward basketball, during last night’s Memphis/Orlando game, Marc briefly switched from NBA to La Liga with a few header attempts. He missed, but in many ways, he definitely made it.
Western Conference supremacy? Tell that to the Atlanta Hawks right now, who have won nine straight games against the West, including a stretch through Houston, Dallas, Portland and L.A. (Clippers).
If there was a mystery as to why they are playing so well over the past six weeks, last night’s performance against the Memphis Grizzlies was illuminating. Jeff Teague balled for 25 points and a late-game closeout performance. Kyle Korver sealed matters with a trey in the final minute.
But it was their defense that shined the most. Simple plain harassment. By the time the final buzzer sounded, “Da Hawks” plucked the Grizzlies 17 times, the most ever in Philips Arena. Putting it into more context, over the past six games, the Hawks have forced 111 turnovers. That’s 18.5 a night. The Philadelphia 76ers cough up the pill a league-worst 19.2 times a night.
Last night, we saw a principled defensive bunch pester its way to another win.
VIDEO:Hawks fly everywhere vs. Memphis, set franchise home record with 17 steals
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Two nights ago during the big Grizzlies/Warriors game, the Warriors got upset late in the game when Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley appeared to take three steps on a lay-up. Walking was not called on the play, and after lobbying a referee in vain for a call, Warriors forward Andre Iguodala walked away and broke into a dance step to demonstrate how he felt Conley managed to get open. (This was when the refs finally made a call — a technical foul on Iguodala.) The Grizzlies got the win, but a few days later, with the help of a Taylor Swift soundtrack and some editing from @CJZero, Iguodala just has to shake it off…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On Saturday night in Philadelphia, the Memphis Grizzlies engineered a come-from-behind overtime win, beating the 76ers 120-115 behind 36 points from point guard Mike Conley. But apparently it wasn’t enough for Conley to only dominate the Sixers on the floor — with an errant (or well-placed, I suppose, depending) pass in the third quarter, he also managed to perfectly upend a front-row patron’s drink. Head’s up!
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Memphis Grizzlies swingman Tony Allen is something of a spiritual leader for the Grizzlies — the guy who spawned the “Grit N Grind” identity the Grizzlies have so fully embraced. Part of that leadership means that Allen occasionally lets loose a bit on the court, like whenever the Grizzlies force a turnover, Allen gives a football-style “first down” sign to signal the change of possession. But last night against the Dallas Mavericks, Allen broke out a variation on the first down sign, adding some popping and locking to the move…
After the game, Allen tweeted out an explanation…
😂😂😂Lol….and as far as the dance, got a little excited and put a little funk on the 1st down sign 🔜➡⏩⏩⏩⏩⏩⏩😂
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Joey Crawford has been an NBA referee since 1977, which means he’s probably forgotten more about the NBA than most of us know. It also means he’s had plenty of time to develop a few signature moves when making a call. Take last night, for instance, during the Kings/Grizzlies game, when Crawford whistled an offensive foul against Zach Randolph and went into a full-on dance step…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — During an important moment in last night’s San Antonio/Cleveland games, the Spurs needed to inbound the ball along the sideline. In order to try and disrupt the pass, the Cavs had seven-footer Anderson Varejao defend the passer, Kawhi Leonard. And in order to make the pass as tough as possible, Varejao was very awkwardly active. Which meant he did this…
Later, just to make sure the moment was commemorated perfectly, “Inside Stuff” host Kristen Ledlow took to Twitter to suggest someone put Varejao’s moves to music. After we discussed a few options — I knew Ledlow would initially gravitate toward Grizzlies fanJustin Timberlake — a Twitter user came up with what just may be the perfect soundtrack to Varejao’s funky moves. Thank you, internet…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — He may not be as ever-present as Spike Lee is with the Knicks or Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles, but Justin Timberlake has long been a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies. It makes sense, as Timberlake is a Memphis native, and he’s publicly been an NBA fan for years now. I mean, Who can forget when he served up Kenny “The Jet” Smith at the All-Star Game years ago?
Courtney Lee’s mental clock must tick smooth like a Rolex … a real one!
Because the Memphis Grizzlies swingman didn’t miss a beat with his buzzer-beating heroics in his team’s epic 111-110 comeback win over the Sacramento Kings Thursday night at the FedEx Forum.
Lee’s beautifully-timed work not only secured the Grizzlies’ rally from a 22-point first quarter deficit that sent fans onto Beale Street feeling giddy about their Grizzlies, it also landed him a prime position on the Horry Scale.
Welcome, Courtney Lee, to the pantheon of clutch shot-makers who have helped make the modern highlight (and the game-winning bucket) the staple it has become in our daily sports diet.
Around here, such plays are evaluated according to difficulty, game situation, importance and celebration. Then they get an overall grade, represented with 1-5 Robert Horry stars, in honor of the vagabond marksman who helped the Rockets (two), Lakers (three) and Spurs (two) capture seven titles in his years with them.
Again, the Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a GWBB. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, the total package
Catch and shoot. It was the only option with so little time (:00.3 to be exact) on the clock. Well, try catching it under the basket and getting a reverse layup to go in over your head with the game on the line. It helped that the Kings fell for each and every jab step and head fake from each and every Grizzlies player, thus freeing Lee up to get to his spot unabated for the game-winning shot attempt.The catch and shoot part of it all was on Lee, and that was plenty difficult, considering the body contortion necessary tor completion of the play. The getting there, however, was courtesy of the Kings … who are clearly in a giving mood this week. This was their second straight come-from-ahead-loss of the week. They led Dallas by 18 points after the first quarter Tuesday and wound up losing 106-98. They are the first team in NBA history to lose back-to-back games that they led by 18 or more points in the first quarter.
Perhaps everyone was still in shock that the Grizzlies had come all the way back. How else do you explain them having those precious .3 seconds to work with on a do-or-die shot? If Vince Carter’s pass is off every so slightly, it’s game over. If a defender knocks Lee off course as he makes his break to the basket, there’s no way he gets his hands on the ball and gets that shot off in time. The play worked in real time exactly the way Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger scribbled it up on the whiteboard in the huddle. Marc Gasol set the perfect screen on Darren Collison. When Jason Thompson and Collison crashed into each other trying to recover, it was already too late. Lee gathered himself and was in the air with his arms outstretched. He grabbed the ball and kissed it off the glass all in the same motion. Game over.
For a Grizzlies team trying to stay atop of and set the pace in the Western Conference standings, stealing this game was huge. No team with designs on a top four seed in the playoff chase can afford to let a game like this slip away. Coming all the way back and not finishing the deal would have been a crusher.
It’s hard to tell if the look of disbelief on Lee’s face was based on his acrobatic layup going in ahead of the final buzzer or because he got completely wide open on the play. The crowd, already on its feet, went bonkers as the ball went off the glass and through the net. Lee made the rounds from the corner of the floor all the way to the Grizzlies bench, hopping in and out of the arms of his teammates along the way. It wasn’t the nifty leap onto the the scorers table we saw from Lance Stephenson. Lee had to get to the bench and watch the review on the jumbotron. He and Tayshaun Prince looked skyward and Lee raised both hands like a boxer who had just heard his name called as the winner.
Courtney Lee is an unlikely hero on a Grizzlies team with several more high-profile options. It’s a testament to this Grizzlies team that no one minds sharing the glory. It could have just as easily been Tony Allen or even Zach Randolph on the receiving end of that pass from Carter…
Given the early deficit, the comeback and the extreme degree of difficulty on that final play, the catch and the kiss … off the glass, it’s hard to give anything high marks to Lee and the Grizzlies for a game-winning play that makes its namesake proud. Give it four Horrys.