Defense and rebounding were the story of Tuesday night’s contest versus the Memphis Grizzlies, with Marcus Camby setting the tone in each category. Marcus in the middle providing 22 rebounds and 5 blocks helping to give the blazers a more than 20 rebound margin for the second game in a row and helping to hold the Griz to just under 38% from the field.
The game started off immediately with Camby hot on the defensive boards, heading towards double digits in the category before the first period had ended. It also some some hot mid-range shooting from LaMarcus Aldridge. The problem was that the team drifted away from Aldridge before re-establishing him in the 4th. Aldridge finished with 23 pts on 8-12 shooting along with 6 boards and 3 assists. It was a low rebound total for Aldridge compared to 22 and 16 recently, but with Camby gobbling up 22 and Gerald Wallace providing 11 more tonight to go with his stellar defense on Rudy Gay, L.A. didn’t have to worry about it tonight.
Jamal Crawford has another nice game, providing 15 points and 4 assists in 22 minutes of game time. Craig Smith also continued his solid contribution with 8 points and 3 boards in 13 minutes.
Raymond dropped a few steps back tonight, shooting just 2-6 and committing 6 costly turnovers against only 2 assists. This helped give the Grizzlies 12 fast break points and much more in early transition, the only spot where they seemed to be able to score from their offense. Wesley Matthews continued his shooting struggles, but again provided strong defense and took it to the hoop on numerous occasions getting him 6 of his 12 points off of free throw. This just proves that you can still be effective even when not shooting well.
Nicolas Batum had a slight bounce-back game with 10 points, 2 assists and 2 boards, along with a block and a steal. I steal want to see more from Nic particularly when he’s in there with the end of the bench guys, who saw 3 or more minutes of play tonight after the lead was comfortable enough for McMillan. Nolan Smith got a little trigger-happy in garbage time spoiling the hopes of another Luke Babbitt Chalupa swish and removing any notion of free gastronomical troubles for all the fans in attendance.
The Grizzlies weren’t hitting shots and they did look tired after expending a lot of energy coming back from more than 20 down against Golden State the night before. However the Blazers gave them several opportunities to come back and only pulled off 43% from the field themselves. Regardless of the lead up, the aftermath is that the Trail Blazers stopped the Grizzlies 7 game win streak and helped themselves in the Western Conference race.
The key for tonight’s 3rd and final game of the back-to-back-to-back is to maintain the defensive and rebounding intensity. The chance of the Warriors shooting as poorly as the Grizzlies did, on their own home court, are slim. Historically Golden State has been a tough win no matter how good the Blazers are or how bad the Warriors team is. I don’t think 43% will cut it when the rebounding battle should be closer. I would love to see them keep that high rebounding edge though. The Blazers look to extend the win streak to 3 tonight at Golden State starting at 7:30.