Memphis Grizzlies starting point guard Mike Conley failed to score in the first half of Wednesday's game against the Golden State Warriors, and he only managed two points for the game. However, Conley quickly set the tone by distributing assists on two of the first three made baskets, and the trend caught on quickly with the rest of the Grizzlies starters. They helped each other on all 13 of their first quarter makes -- shooting an astounding 81.3 percent over that span -- and continued on to set a club-high for 2012 with 33 assists in a single game. Rudy Gay produced a 26-point, 12-rebound game, Marreese Speights added 18 and seven rebounds and Marc Gasol worked a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double in the 110-92 road win.
While the Warriors shot just 44.3 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers, the Grizzlies responded by aggressively pushing the tempo to establish a 52-26 edge on points in the paint and a staggering 32-5 cushion in fast-break points. That's right, the Golden State Warriors were dramatically outscored in fast-break points, and it happened at home. Without the benefit of easy opportunities in transition, Ekpe Udoh took the team lead in assists on the night. It was a career high for Udoh, who also added nine points and six rebounds, but four assists are never impressive as a team-high total in the NBA unless everyone has four. In this case, only backup guard Nate Robinson joined the ranks.
Those assist totals should tell you something about the Golden State offense: Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis didn't really do the heavy lifting. In fact, Ellis struggled his way to 16 points on 7-for-19 shooting to go with three assists, three turnovers and not a even a single made free throw. Curry shot better (7-for-11), but only scored 15 points and dished out just three assists to his two turnovers as head coach Mark Jackson kept him on a short leash due to his recurring ankle injuries. The best offense came from rookie swingman Klay Thompson, who scored 16 points -- 10 of those in the fourth quarter -- by knocking in 3-of-5 threes and taking a few chances on drives along the way. In any case, defense was the problem.
Three Grizzlies tied their season-high assist totals in the wide open transition attack. Mike Conley (12 assists), O.J. Mayo (five assists) and Marreese Speights (four assists) all visited the apex of their season from a distributive standpoint, as Memphis moved the ball well and shot 52.5 percent as a team on the night. Rudy Gay led the way with 26 points and 12 rebounds (including 16 in the second half and 10 to close out the game), while fellow front-court members Marc Gasol and Marresse Speights also joined in the fun to help outscore GSW 52-26 in the painted area.
Gasol crafted an effective double-double -- 17 points and 12 rebounds -- while Speights outdid his partner with 18 points on a diverse and effective 8-of-12 shooting attack to go with his season-high four assists and seven rebounds. He rained in top of the key jumpers over David Lee in the first quarter to help spark the early run that put the Grizz ahead. After the game, head coach Lionel Hollins took a small measure of pride in his team defense, led again by wing defender Tony Allen, as they limited the Warriors to just five fast break points:
"That's incredible when you're playing against the Warriors, because they can get out and run. We didn't really turn the ball over where they had chances to run back at us. Most of the turnovers, we just threw the ball in the stands. So that'll really cut down on [an opponent's fast-break points]."
Memphis (23-15) has now won five straight games and nine of their its 10, while the Warriors have lost three of their last four contests and have fallen to 15-21 overall.