The Memphis Grizzlies, with two impressive wins, on the road, over the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, all within the space of four days, suddenly look like a team no one wants to face in the postseason. The Houston Rockets won’t be confused for title contenders, but their win over the Lakers at the Staples Center was more than just an isolated incident.
Memphis are an interesting of late. Wins in Oklahoma City and then against the Heat, stopping the Heat’s 17 game win streak at home makes you wonder about how hellish of a matchup they might be for anyone they’ll face, home advantage or not, Zach Randolph or not. In Miami, they got Randolph in half strength, scoring 14 off the bench, with Rudy Gay (17), leading 7 Grizzlies players in double figures.
It looked like the Miami Heat left out everything they had in that win over the Thunder. Great teams, but inconsistent, need a challenge, something to prove. Showing the world they’re good enough to handle the Kevin Durant circus. LeBron James had to show he’s the real MVP of that season. But against Memphis? The energy levels were alarmingly low across the board, as James-Wade-Bosh finished with 60 points. The rest of the team? Just 22 points.
The Houston Rockets had a harder time, but just as impressive win. Goran Dragic more than anyone else. Not just in this game, but the whole season. No longer the guy Derrick Rose posterized in Phoenix. Dragic led six players in double figures, scoring 26 points while adding 11 assists. Dragic is averaging 10.5 points and 4.8 assists this season, filling in for the injured Kyle Lowry.
The Rockets, unlike most teams that stumble in Los Angeles, had no problem getting a perimter game going, hitting 10-17 from beyond the arc, while Luis Scola, Marcus Camby and Samuel Dalembert were more than enough to measure up against Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
Kobe Bryant, who else, led the Lakers with 28 points, but there’s something off in Lakers-Land. It’s hard to put your finger on it – Bryant shooting too much? Bynum unhappy, now even finding out he was on the verge of finding himself traded to the Orlando Magic? Mike Brown has probably done better than expected, better than what the beginning hinted at. But he needs to make sure things don’t unravel near the end, with the playoffs looming.