Memphis is one of the hardest, grimiest teams in the NBA. You really thought they were going to roll over and let Los Angeles sweep them?
Zach Randolph had 18 points in the first half and Memphis' bench actually outscored Los Angeles' bench, leading the Grizzlies to a 47-39 lead at the half. Blake Griffin leads the Clips with 10, while Chris Paul has been bottled up with three turnovers and zero assists.
Here's the answers to the three questions Jonathan Tjarks had about the first half of Game 1:
Can the Grizzlies get more out of Zach Randolph Zach Randolph?
Suffice it to say, yes.
Zach Randolph looked kinda like Zach Randolph at his best out there. After scoring 13 points on 10 shots in each of the first two games, Randolph came out and scored 13 points on five shots in the first quarter alone.
He hit the Grizzlies' first shot, a rainbow 18-footer. A few minutes later, he got the ball in the post and bullied a shot up and in, drawing an and-one call on DeAndre Jordan. Some more layups, some finishes around the hoop and some boards and putbacks followed. He had a steal and pass ahead to Keyon Dooling. They even let him shoot a technical free throw, even with better shooters on the floor. All things told finish with 18 points and four rebounds on six shots.
Z-Bo looked like Z-Bo, the wide rebounder with a mean streak, a low center of gravity, four inches of vertical leap and not a care in the world. That's exactly what the team wanted.
How will Vinny Del Negro handle the Clippers' rotation?
The other day, we wrote a post about how Los Angeles' bench has made this series somewhat of a mismatch. The Clippers' "Tribe Called Bench" is high-energy, high-scoring fun with great athletes and great role players, and the Grizzlies' bench is, like, Jerryd Bayless and Keyon Dooling. We quoted something the brilliant Steve Perrin wrote at Clips Nation:
If Memphis is counting on Bayless and Keyon Dooling to be major factors, the series is already over.
Los Angeles deployed their bench as usual: first Jamal Crawford, then Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins. When the second quarter opened, Eric Bledsoe and Lamar Odom followed, giving everybody on the squad a rest.
But Memphis did something weird: they countered by going full bench too. Sure, the Grizzlies have gone 10-deep before, but it seemed weird to have it happen all at once on a team with several inadequate bench players.
But, uh, it worked. Bayless and Dooling, presumably big Clips Nation readers, drilled back-to-back threes, and Vinny Del Negro had to call a timeout. Sure, Barnes answered back with a dunk and a three, but the Grizzlies bench crew matched the Tribe -- actually outscoring them by three -- and that's all Lionel Hollins could've asked.
Could this be the end of the road for the "Grit 'N Grind" Grizzlies?
Not yet. This game has the early makings of a Grizzlies win, and it's come on the back of Randolph and Marc Gasol playing Grizzlies-ball. This series could have life in it yet.