Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Grizzlies/Suns Live Blogging

I'm trying something new--a live blog of Game 2. I'm watching the game on TNT, not FSN South, just so you know. It's nothing personal against Pete Praneca or Michael Cage, just that TNT's got the HD workin' tonight. Let's see how this goes:

First quarter:

9:35 pm: Well, well, well, guess who's on the play-by-play for TNT? Matty Devlin! As you well know. Every time I hear him say the phrase "Memphis Grizzlies", I'm going to chuckle.

9:37 pm: Jason's starting strong--shooting really well. Let's see if he can keep that up. Hope he takes smart shots.

9:39: Good aggressive play by the Grizzlies--going to the hole more often. Amare Stoudemire with an early foul. FOUL HIM OUT!

9:44: I wish Mike Miller could get a shot. Just one. Did everyone forget Game 1 already?

9:45: Well, the Suns definitely aren't going to replicate that first quarter from Sunday shooting like this--ugly shots all around.

9:47: Amare Stoudemire just dunked the ball so hard I think it made an indentation on the floor. Don't, uh, let him get free or you will get embarrassed.

9:48: Two fouls on Miller--no shots yet for Mike; guess we won't see any until the second half. You know that's one of my pet peeves--Miller needs shots.

9:50: Grizzlies already in the penalty in the 1st quarter--why oh why do you give the Suns so many free baskets? Take it down a notch with the bad fouls.

9:52: Amare Stoudemire's got foul number 2--good job by Pau going straight at him. He's staying in the game too--can they draw foul #3?

9:54: Pau just took a 15 foot jump shot instead of going at Amare Soudemire one-on-one w/ Amare in early foul trouble. Thats why Pau is frustrating to watch.

9:55: Jason's hit 4 in a row. Combine this with the Game 1 performance, and Jason is clearly reverse Samson--shave his head and he gets stronger.

9:57: 5 in a row for Jason.

9:58: Make it 6--this is getting crazy. 13 points for J-Will already. Very important for him to keep that going; plus, only one or two of the shots would even be considered borderline bad shots, so it's coming in the flow of the offense.

10:01: It would be hard for me to describe to you how stupid the TNT promo with Magic Johnson and some dude from "Law and Order" is. I had totally forgotten how horrible Magic Johnson is at anything other than basketball, but now I remember it all...including "The Magic Hour".

10:02: Pressure's on, Earl.

10:04: Dahntay Jones has had two straight shots go in and out--give the dude a break.

10:08: Huge 3 at the end of the first quarter by Joe Johnson. That hurts the momentum. Still, can't ask for too much more out of the Grizzlies, although Mike Miller's foul situation is a concern, as is the fact that the Suns really didn't shoot the ball all that well and yet are only down by a basket. Grizzlies look much more confident tonight.

Second Quarter:

10:12: Earl Watson picks up his first foul w/ 11:44 left in the 2nd quarter.

10:13: Brian Cardinal foul. That's two in the first 25 seconds of the quarter. At this rate, the Suns will be in the penalty by the 10:00 mark. Can't give them free ones.

10:14: Quentin Richardson miss leads to a Joe Johnson offensive rebound--the Grizzlies are getting completely outworked on the offensive glass. Completely.

10:18: Steven Hunter is now on Pau--and Pau is working him. Thankfully. If Pau can't work Steven Hunter over, then he needs to pick up his paycheck with a mask and a gun.

10:18: 2nd foul on Earl--a nickel and dime job, too. Gotta be smarter than that.

10:20: I am sick of seeing monkeys in commercials. Every one sucks (every commercial, not necessarily every monkey), and every one is the same--monkey does something funny, human responds, monkey ends up outsmarting human, product is shown.

10:21: Another Suns turnover leads to a Grizzly basket (42-35 Suns); Suns sloppy on offense. Grizzlies shooting 62% from field at this point.

10:22: John Thompson on TNT--"I'll tell you what, both of these teams leave a lot to be desired on the defensive side of the floor." No kidding, Coach.

10:23: Suns already in penalty for 2nd quarter w/ 7:38 left. That's bad. But they haven't been shooting lights out from the free throw line. That's good.

10:23: Brian Cardinal's done some nice things since he's been in; Posey's been quiet. Dahntay's been solid, too.

10:24: You know, Amare Stoudemire's got 14 points now, but he's still got 2 fouls on him--go at him on offense!

10:25: Mike Miller's first shot of the game comes w/ 6:30 left in the second quarter. It was short. Dammit.

10:26: Jason's back in, and has immediately missed two shots--the first was a forced shot, the second was a missed layup. That sequence was only surprising if this is the first time you've ever watched a Grizzlies game.

10:30: Another Jason miss (on a rushed jumper). That first quarter of lights-out shooting from J-Will may end up doing the Grizzlies more harm than good. It leads to a Nash basket--Grizzlies only up 46-44 despite shooting very well. This is a problem. Fratello calls TO--smart one, Mike.

10:33: I wonder if it's hard for Matt Devlin to not revert back to his Grizzly homer days. "DEEP FRIED!" If he says that during the broadcast, I will lose it.

10:35: Pam Oliver is hot. And she's got good information about Pau--he told her he ran out of gas in Game 1 due to the pace of the game. John Thompson is insinuating that it may be happening again--interesting.

10:36: Third foul on Ren. The Grizzlies may want to stop fouling.

10:37: How has Amare Stoudemire played for 10:00 and not picked up his third foul? This is the same thing that happened during the last regular season game in Memphis--the Grizzlies didn't take advantage then, either.

10:39: John Thompson: "The Suns aren't missing shots because of good defense. They're just missing shots." Can't count on them missing shots forever--they're up to 45% from the field now.

10:39: FINALLY! Foul number 3 on Stoudemire with 1:35 left in the half. It's about damn time.

10:41: Phoenix up 57-50 with less than 1:00 left in the half--Grizzlies having real problems matching the Suns constant energy; Phoenix now on 16-4 run because the Grizz are gassed.

10:43: Massive 3 by Quentin Richardson--matched by Shane Battier w/ :00.1 on the clock! That was big. Here's the problem: the Grizzlies played well, shot the ball well, and the Suns missed a lot of open shots early, and yet the Suns are up 6 at the half. The Grizzlies must get the Suns into foul trouble, and soon. It's the only way to win.


10:46: TNT's Halftime show cracks me up--it is remarkable, though, how few Grizzlies highlights you see on TNT. It's like the Suns vs. __________, and the __________ doesn't matter to TNT. By the way, Ernie Johnson is a great guy. Devout Christian, he's adopted a Romanian girl and has another child with severe disabilities, and yet, he's always upbeat and good to deal with. Just thought you'd like to know.

10:49: Peter's halftime numbers of note--FT attempts: Suns-20, Grizzlies-9. FG Percentage: Suns-49%, Grizzlies-46% (that, of course, despite the fact the Grizzlies shot very, very well in the first quarter). Mike Miller: 0-3 FG

10:52: Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (with a sly grin, when asked how Manu Ginobili responded when he was asked to come off the bench tonight): "He...he asked to be traded in the offseason, and I said no, and that was just the end of it. He handled it pretty well after the request." That's funny. The Spurs just destroyed the Nuggets tonight. The Spurs wanted that one bad--that's why they're so tough to beat in a series.

10:59: The commercial where the dude clicks his mouse and makes Carmelo Anthony's shorts disappear confuses me. He wants to see Carmelo naked? And what does that have to do with milk, anyway?

Third quarter:

11:03: Pam Oliver says the Grizzlies' focus in the second half is stopping Steve Nash. Let's see how that goes.

11:04: Nash to Stoudemire for a MONSTER dunk to start the second half. So you're saying that plan didn't start off well...

11:05: Hard to believe that Shawn Marion, who's now guarding Pau straight up, just blocked Pau's jump shot.. Marion's like 6' 7'' tops.

11:05: Stoudemire again. He's got 20. Remember those fans saying that the Grizzlies were able to control him? Might want to rethink that.

11:09: Grizzlies can't throw it in the ocean right now--Devlin said they're 6 of their last 24, while the Suns are 11 of their last 16.

11:11: Pam Oliver said Fratello kept calling out Pau in the timeout huddle, asking him if he was sure he wanted to play. Pau responds with 2 quick baskets and a board--guess he wants to play, huh? Pau has to improve on D. Has to.

11:13: Another basket for Pau. See what happens when you're aggressive, Pau? Keep calling him out, Fratello--apparently it works.

11:14: 4th foul on Mike Miller. Ridiculous.

11:14: ANOTHER DUNK by Pau! He's actually playing with something resembling fire and anger. And it's working. Keep throwing it to him.

11:16: Pau Gasol has 8 points, 7 rebounds, and an assist in the third quarter alone. He's got 18 and 15 overall--and just took a horrendous 20 footer w/ the shot clock running out. YOu're on fire, Pau, but don't be stupid.

11:18: Every time I look up, Amare Stoudemire is shooting a free throw.

11:18: J-Will 3 ties it up as the Grizzlies are on a nice run here--and Devlin wanted to say, "DEEP FRIED!!!!!" so bad on the 3, but just couldn't.

11:20: Finally, Ren goes right at Stoudemire and it's an easy layup--he doesn't want to foul, fellas.

11:21: Brian Cardinal in for Pau and draws a foul on Shawn Marion--Cardinal's smart like that.

11:22: J-Will hits another big 3 to tie the game at 77. Jason's shots have been much smarter in the 3rd quarter than in the second.

11:23: Cardinal tried the ol' up and under on Marion again--no foul this time, and Marion goes downcourt and crashes hard in a collision with Cardinal. Looks like he's OK--he's played well with that wrist injury.

11:29: No J-Will, and the Grizzlies just had one of the worst possessions I've seen, with James Posey and Brian Cardinal combining for a shotclock violation to forget (has there ever been one to remember?).

11:29: End of the third quarter--Phoenix up 82-77. Here's my stat of the game so far: FT attempts: Grizzlies 11, Amare Stoudemire 16.

11:30: Grizzlies still very much in this one, thanks to Pau Gasol and Jason Williams. I hope they both step up huge in the 4th. Especially on defense.

Fourth Quarter:

11:34: John Thompson points out the Grizzlies only have 6 turnovers. That's another reason the Grizzlies are still in the game. By the way, where's James Posey tonight?

11:35: No Steve Nash in the game right now--Grizzlies need to take advantage.

11:37: There's Posey! A layup to cut it to 2.

11:38: With no Nash in the game, the Suns just don't look comfortable at all--the offense is jerky and inconsistent, and no one gets good looks at the basket the way they do with Nash.

11:38: Nash checks back in. Mike D'Antoni's no dummy.

11:39: Another Pau Gasol basket--he's having a great second half, and it all started with Mike Fratello calling him out in the huddle early in the 3rd. Pau needs a wake-up call every now and again.

11:39: The Suns have started double-teaming Pau--he's earned their respect tonight. Now his teammates have to make the outside shots that will come as a result--Earl Watson missed his first look out of a Pau double-team. No shock there. There's almost always a better shot in the offense than an Earl 3.

11:43: I don't like the fact that Jerry Orbach is still in these TNT promos--and he's dead. Can't you edit the dead man out of your ad campaign, TNT? Jerry Orbach doesn't care about how much drama TNT has because he's no longer alive.

11:44: Great steal by Earl Watson--and a smooth pass right to Brian Cardinal, who draws a flagrant foul on Amare Stoudemire. Excellent basketball. Cardinal hits both FTs and we're tied again at 88 w/ 6:55 left in the game.

11:46: Pau playing like a monster on the inside! Great move to spin around the double-team, he missed, but grabbed his own board and dunked on 2 Suns. This Pau is an $86 million player.

11:47: Earl with a phenomenal pass to Cardinal--great look.

11:47: As well as Pau is playing right now, Amare Stoudemire is just killing people on the inside. He's drawing foul after foul. He's got 30. Pau's got 26 and 16 right now.

11:51: Here's a shock--as we come back from the break, Amare Stoudemire is shooting free throws.

11:52: Joe Johnson hits a 3 to tie the game at 94--the Suns have only hit 4 threes all night long. That's a nice number for the Grizzlies.

11:52: James Posey responds with a 3 of his own--Posey's showing up here in the 4th.

11:54: The Suns are hitting big threes late--which Grizzly will step up late?

11:55: Grizzlies 99 Suns 99 with 3:21 left to play. Mike Fratello couldn't have wished for a better situation--now the players have to win it.

11:59: Brian Cardinal misses a 20-footer from the baseline--not a good shot at all. Marion responds.

11:59: Hard to believe Jason Williams is not in this game right now--Earl needs to step up huge.

12:00: Jason checks back in.

12:00: Gasol picks up the foul stopping Amare from dunking one to China--but two more FTs for Stoudemire. Suns up 4.

12:01: Strong move underneath by Pau, and he draws the foul. Late in the game, use Pau to his fullest advantage--

12:01: Uh, Pau, go ahead and make your free throws. He missed them both. Big offensive board by Posey, though, and he got fouled.

12:02: Posey makes only one of two FTs. Missing 3 of 4 from the line late hurts.

12:03: Posey misses a wide-open 3 to tie. Great look. Didn't fall.

12:03: Interesting to note that Dahntay Jones is in the game w/ 48.8 seconds left and the Grizzlies down 3. He's apparently passed the test to earn Fratello's confidence.

12:07: Grizzlies go to Pau w/ 30 seconds left and his shot gets blocked hard by Quentin Richardson. Huge elevation by Q. Pau wasn't really strong with the move, but Q made an outstanding help-side play to get the block.

12:08: Suns up 4 after Q hits 1 of 2 at the line--that one miss may come back to haunt Phoenix.

12:08: Grizzlies have to get a quick shot here, regardless of whether it's a two or a three. Has to be quick.

12:10: Grizzlies come out of the timeout and who else but Mike Miller hits a huge 3 to cut it to one--great play call out of the timeout. Nice job by Mike to come off the bench cold and hit the three.

12:11: Two Nash FTs set up the last Grizzly possession of regulation time--Grizzlies down 3 with :09.1 left to play. Will it be Mike again? Will it be Jason? A quick Pau basket? I'm guessing it will be Mike off a screen again, but they could decoy into a Jason 3, also.

12:13: It was Miller. And it was a miss. Not a terrible look, although he looked off-balance. Suns rebound, and Quentin Richardson hits both FTs and it's pretty much over.

12:14: It's over. Phoenix 108 Memphis 103.

Final Thoughts:

Well, I suppose you can say that there are a lot of positives the Grizzlies can take out of this game, and there are, but the fact remains it was a loss. These guys are mature enough, and this franchise is old enough, where moral victories in the postseason shouldn't matter any more. The Grizzlies showed tonight they're good enough to hang with Phoenix--they were good enough in spurts to beat the Suns tonight, but they couldn't put it together on a consistent basis.

The final stats show that Amare Stoudemire shot three more free throws than the entire Grizzlies team, and he made 7 more himself than the entire Grizzlies team. He was just so aggressive inside that the Grizzlies didn't know how to respond, other than just to foul over and over again. I hope this shuts up all of those who kept talking about how the Grizzlies have Stoudemire's number and all that nonsense. He's an All-Star for a reason.

Let's remember that it comes down to the simple things--had the Grizzlies simply made 6 of the 8 FTs they missed, they would have won the game. The Suns were 31-40 from the line, while the Grizzlies were 11-19. Big stat.

Pau was big for almost all of the second half. He showed up when called upon. He proved that he can step up in a big situation, and I hope he can do that more consistently. He still needs to be more physical, but that's just not his personality. I guess we all have to accept that. Working around that late in ballgames is proving to be difficult for the Grizzlies--but that's why Mike Fratello makes the big bucks. That being said, Gasol's line of 28 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 assists is a monster for a playoff road game--the Grizzlies got a big effort from their superstar.

The Grizzlies are down 2-0, but they've got to have more confidence going into Game 3 on Friday. That's a positive. Plus, the Grizzlies did all of this without getting anything from Mike Miller. A playoff win would do this franchise a world of good--let's see if they can get it on Friday.

Hope you enjoyed the live blog--I may do it from time to time, but it's much harder than I thought it would be to do this in real-time. Talk to you in 5 hours.

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