Game 51: Grizzlies at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
There were plenty of smiles after the game from the players, coaches, staff, fans and even the grizzled media.
Let's face it, it's way more fun to cover a winning team than the stuff we've been watching for most of the season.
They looked like a real defensive team tonight, as they limited the Grizzlies to 38.4 percent shooting. Why is that significant? The previous five teams have shot better than 50 percent from the field against the Cavs.
Remember, they want to hang their hat on the defensive end. They've talked about doing it all season. They just haven't gotten it done on the court.
Part of that defensive intensity came from center Anderson Varejao. The media waited for what seemed like forever after the game for him to emerge from the trainer's room. He never showed.
He was limping late in the game. He attacked Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph on Sunday. Randolph had 14 points and eight rebounds. He shot just 6 of 16 from the field.
That shifted 6-9 Tristan Thompson on the 7-1 Marc Gasol, and the Grizzlies center never got going. He had just eight points, nine rebounds and four blocks. He was 3 of 11 from the field. Tyler Zeller also guarded him for part of the night.
I have been a bit tough on Zeller as of late, but he really played aggressively against Memphis with five points and eight rebounds. They need him to play with aggression.
Kyrie Irving was the only starter in double figures with 28 points. Luol Deng was next with nine points. He just doesn't look right to me. I suspect his Achilles' tendon is really bothering him. He doesn't look as athletic as he used to with Chicago.
I don't know how long Coach Mike Brown will stick with Jarrett Jack in the starting lineup. He had two points tonight - he's averaging 1.0 point in his last two games. But coaches are creatures of habit. If they are on a winning streak, they rarely make any changes. So, we might see Jack for another game, at least.
The Grizzlies were playing without their starting backcourt of Tony Allen (sprained left wrist) and Mike Conley (sprained right ankle). That made a big difference for Memphis, even though rookie Nick Calathes played very well with 17 points and six assists.
The Grizzlies have hung in the Western Conference playoff race. They are currently the ninth seed in the West.
The Cavs are 14-3 lifetime against the Grizzlies at The Q, including an 8-1 mark in the last nine home games.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Sacramento at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Marc Gasol (7-1, 265)
Grizzlies - G Mike Conley, F Quincy Pondexter