The Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies for the second time this year, 116 to 104. They took what was supposed to be an easy win and did it convincingly with the help of two stars, Baron Davis and Monta Ellis. However, they did have some pretty good competition from Pau Gasol to take some votes away. This win came off an ugly and unacceptable loss to the Portland Trailblazers two nights ago, so you could tell they wanted to erase that from memory and prove again how good they are (even if it's beating up a bad team who came off a loss the night before). Let's tally the votes after the jump.
Don Nelson started my favorite lineup last night with Al, Jackson, and Beans controlling down-low. Putting our best players on the court to start the game was the first sign we were going to try to put this game away early. With help from the crowd, the Warriors came out Jessica Alba HOT by running and gunning straight from the start. You could tell Memphis was not prepared for the Warriors as they were quickly down 10-0. I think at that point I went to get a glass of water and when I came back the Warriors were up even more 22-5. As a proud Warrior fan I decided to stay and watch the game instead of switching it over to Seinfeld (I love that guy!) because I always love a good beat down. I'm glad I didn't change the channel...
Memphis made a surge and cut the lead down by the end of the first quarter, but halfway into the second we were up by 20. As I always say, our defense leads the way. We get fast break points and easy buckets. Nellie had Jackson and Baron guard Mike Miller and Rudy Gay giving them no opportunity to breathe and essentially no chance to make a run.
Harrington had a sweet first half making plays and grabbing boards, but it was the speed of Ellis with one of the best performances of his young career. Coach Nellie challenged Monta at the beginning of the game to work on his floaters and drives, and he did just that. I loved the fact that he was more aggressive then usual and you could see in his body language how much he wanted to get this team rolling to a great start. He is slowly realizing how important it is for him to get off to a good start for us to play well.
Outside of Navarro's surprising efficiency in the first half for the Grizzlies, there was only one player who even kept them in the same realm as the Warriors. That man was Pau Gasol who does not get much media attention so I always forget how good he actually is until I see him play against our Warriors. Hook shots, dunks, short jumpers, post-ups, interior passing, passing out of the double team, rebounds, Gasol was hungry and aggressive keeping the Warrior lead to only 13, a manageable lead at halftime.
Memphis cut the lead in the middle of the 4th quarter to a measly 6 points. Warriors fans were trembling in their We Believe shirts as the bottom dwelling team made their run. But two big shots nailed the Grizzly coffin shut. First was Baron's 10 foot jumper over Gasol to push that lead to 8 and stop the Memphis run. I think Barnett repeated over and over, when a big man is guarding a small man, you can get any jump shot you want with a little jab step. With Baron as clutch as he is, I'm surprised that shot even hit the rim, I thought it would have been nothing but net. The next big shot came a with just a 2:35 left and the Warriors up 9. Kelenna Azubuike made his presence felt with a 3 pointer that hammered the coffin shut. The Grizzlies can come back from being down 9 with 2:35 left, but now down 12, you might as well pack up and go home. Doesn't he seem to always make his shots in the 4th? Good night Grizzlies. Go home.
The voting is in:
While Jackson and Al each had nice games scoring 22 and 19 points, the game really came down to only 3 players making strides for their campaign votes:
For the Memphis Grizzlies it was no doubt Pau Gasol:
The only positive thing we had on him all night!
Pau Gasol is having a decent season but some believe his numbers are down due to Memphis' new uptempo offense. Shooting 17-25, he had 43 points (1 shy of his all-time best), grabbed 11 rebounds (4 of which were offensive), dished out 3 assists, and threw in a block just to fill out the stat sheet. Gasol was able to counterattack anything Nellie threw at him whether that was Beans, POB, Croshere, or the towel boy. Gasol was quickly my vote in the first half for best performance. I remember threads and rumors of the Warriors trying to trade for Gasol, but we'd have to give up quite a bit to land this big guy.
Surprisingly, both Mike Miller and Rudy Gay chose not to run for candidacy this time around. Did either even show up? Perhaps it was the influence of the Warriors defense that convinced them to not run. Both were expected to have some big games, but both came up big duds.
The Warriors had 2 candidates last night who shined above everyone else, Monta Ellis and Baron Davis:
Monta Ellis had one of those nights. The kind of night you think "how good is he going to be in 2 more years?!" It was the kind of night you thanked the heavens we didn't trade him away during the offseason. Monta was challenged before the game to elevate his game and use his quickness and offensive skills to get himself rolling. He did just that throwing in floaters and finger rolls. His crossover was sick and that led to some open jump shots and layups. He just didn't miss, literally. By the 4th quarter, Monta was 11-11 from field and was closing in on Wilt's record of 18 straight shots without a miss. Monta finally missed in the fourth erasing his chances, but he still finished with 27 points on 12-15 shooting.
Baron Davis at the end of the night got my vote for candidacy. It seems like he always gets the vote which makes it that much more impressive. How can you beat a 43 point performance from the other team or a teammate that almost had a perfect game? Well you basically drop a staggering 19 assists. 19! My word! Baron said he wanted to get everyone involved in the game and especially help get Ellis off to a good start. Baron showed his brilliance as he examined the court from every angle. With a little help from his friends, the team shot a very high field goal percentage. What's even more impressive is that he only had 1 turnover. If Baron does not make it as an All-Star David Stern is going get an earful from me. He also finished the night with 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks for a complete game.
Lastly on a side note ... I'm 1/275 for predictions, but last night I was correct in the Baron/Monta scoring prediction. Thanks to lowchi for pointing that out!