Energized Grizzlies find offense in rout of NetsBy Ron Higgins, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sat, Jan 26, 2013 12:10 AM EST
By Ron Higgins MEMPHIS -- So this is how the week has gone for the Memphis Grizzlies, all without leaving the friendly surroundings of FedExForum. Monday: Struggle on offense like they have for several weeks, poorly execute a game-winning shot and lose by a point to Indiana. Tuesday: Trade three bench players, including two key contributors to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bench rotation gets completely shuffled. Wednesday: Have their best scoring half of the year, with 59 in the first half against the Lakers, and win by 13. Friday: Put up a season-best 67 first-half points and destroy the Brooklyn Nets, the Eastern Conference's third-best team, in a 101-77 blowout in which the Grizzlies (28-14) held a double-digit lead for a cumulative three quarters. "The trade energized us," said Grizzlies' point guard Mike Conley, who had 14 points and was one of a season-high seven Grizzlies scoring in double figures. "I think it opened a lot of eyes. Everybody's game kind of changed. We (the starters) knew we'd have to play a little bit longer, we knew guys had to be aggressive. I think we now have a sense of urgency as opposed to the month before." Memphis hopped on the Nets (26-17) so hard, so fast that Brooklyn trailed by double digits with the game just seven minutes old. Centers Marc Gasol of the Grizzlies and Brook Lopez of the Nets both opened in a basket-for-basket duel -- Gasol had all 20 of his points in the first half and Lopez scored nine of his team-high 18 in the first quarter. But Memphis kept attacking in waves. The Grizzlies' bench scored 38 points, and maintained being aggressive as Memphis scored a season-high 62 points in the paint. "Our pace is better, our ball movement is good and we're attacking tams in the pick and roll," Grizzlies' coach Lionel Hollins said. "There are so many peaks and valleys in 82 games, and we're trying to climb out of the valley we were in when we lost three straight by 20 points." The Nets, losing for just the third time in the last 15 games, looked a step behind for most of the night. The only time they made things interesting was in the third quarter when they cut Memphis' lead from 30 points to 18 before the Grizzlies bench restarted the engines. "They (the Grizzlies) did what they wanted to do," Nets' forward Gerald Wallace said. "They came out, hit us dead in the mouth. They took it from the opening tip all the way to the final buzzer. They did what they wanted to do. This is a reality check for us." Memphis shot 52.2 percent from the field and tied a season-high with 47 made field goals. It seemed like no one in a Grizzlies uniform could do any wrong, even guys hadn't played much all year or who hadn't been with the team until a couple of days ago. Rookie point guard Tony Wroten, forced into action this week because of the trade, had eight of his 11 points in the first half, including two dunks. Chris Johnson, signed on a 10-day contract from the D-League, had seven of his 10 points in the first half. "I felt more settled tonight than I did on my first game (on Wednesday vs. the Lakers)," Johnson said. "I'll do what I have to do to help us win. My job is to go out there and hoop and everything else takes care of itself." The Grizzlies don't play again until Sunday when they face the New Orleans Hornets in a fourth straight home. The Nets have to pick up the pieces Saturday night in a back-to-back at Houston, which was a 100-82 winner over the Nets on Friday. The game ends a four-game road trip for Brooklyn. "I wish we had the day off. I wish we didn't have to come back up right away, but that's the way it is," Nets' coach P.J. Carlisemo said. "We need to find a way to bring some energy (at Houston), because it's going to be a high-energy game." Notes: The 35-point win by the Grizzlies over the Nets' was Memphis' second largest victory margin this year. ... Nets' forward Reggie Evans had his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. ... Rudy Gay, who finished with 11 points for the Grizzlies, became Memphis' all-time leader in most games played. He now has played in 477 games in a Grizzlies uniform, surpassing Pau Gasol's 476 games played from 2001-2008. ... Grizzlies backup guard Jerryd Bayless scored 11 points, marking the first time this season he has scored in double figures in consecutive games. ... There was pregame happiness in the Grizzlies' camp and unhappiness in the Nets' camp concerning the naming of the All-Star reserves. Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, who leads the league in double-doubles with 27, was named to the West squad for the second time in the last three years. "I'm more of a garbage man this year than in previous years," Randolph said. "We have a different way of playing now with more picks and rolls, so I dig in more now for offensive rebounds. If coach wants me to go a different way, I go through a different way." Even Randolph was surprised that the Nets, with the third best record in the Eastern Conference, didn't have a single player selected as a reserve. The biggest snub might have been to Nets' center Lopez, who's averaging 18.6 points and 7.4 rebounds. "I can't believe we sit at No. 3 in the East and we don't get player in the game," said Nets' guard Joe Johnson, a six-time All-Star with the Hawks before being traded to the Nets in July. Carlesimo, who had a 12-2 record heading into Friday's game, said, "I believe the coaches voted the correct way. If they voted the correct way, they must feel we have unbelievable chemistry. I thought the combination where we are right now in the standings and the way three guys (Lopez, Deron Williams and Johnson) are playing makes it hard to understand none of them could be selected."
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