The word is out in the NBA. The Memphis Grizzlies are no longer simply a Grit Grind operation.
Memphis pushed its record to 35-12 on Saturday night with an 85-74 win over the Thunder. The Grizz victory came on the strength – literally – of Grizzlies Veteran F Zach Randolph, who finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds and continues to play his best basketball in several years.
But it was Brooks’ comments before the game that tell the evolving story of why these Grizzlies appear to be rising to the proverbial ‘next level’ of the NBA hierarchy.
Brooks on the Grizzlies:
“They’re a good defensive team. They’re a 2-way team now. They used to just be a half court team. Just pound you inside and get an occasional jump shot. But now they defend and they score.”
“They’re playing a bit faster. This year they’ve made an effort to play with more pace. We have to take care of the basketball.”
When it comes to the Grizzlies – Brooks should know – Saturday night’s game was the 36th between the two clubs in the last 5 seasons. Two, 7-game playoff series breed familiarity.
About that taking care of the basketball thing? Mission not accomplished – the Thunder coughed it up 17 times against the active Grizzlies defense. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant had 4.
Watching the Grizzlies with all their main guys available – Mike Conley was back in the lineup on Saturday – has become a thing of beauty. That is if you like defense, precision passing and pace – as Brooks refers to it.
The word is out. The Grizz can beat you two ways.
Watch the full interview here (video courtesy of Oklahoma City Thunder):