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Pete's Perspective: Grizzlies vs. Bucks 10/16/13

Grizzlies vs. Bucks
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
Tuesday night's game against Milwaukee was the first time I've seen the Grizzlies in game action this pre-season and I, along with a few thousand fans, were treated to an entertaining, if uneven game. Dave Joerger elected to sit Kosta Koufos, Mike Miller, Willie Reed and Zach Randolph. Tayshaun Prince, reportedly suffering from a stomach bug, was out as well. The Grizzlies' 102-99 win however, still provided insight into the 2013-14 edition of the Grizzlies.

To get some of the perfunctory data out of the way: Quincy Pondexter led all scorers with 24 points while Jerryd Bayless added 18 off the bench. The Griz shot a chilly 42% from the floor but forced 18 turnovers for 22 points and attempted 15 more free throws (making nine more). Former Griz O.J. Mayo hit four of five threes before fouling out with 14 points. Brandon Knight led the Bucks with 19 points.

And now, onto more specific observations:
- Quincy Pondexter has made a commitment to be a well-rounded player. A lot of people thought he might be angling to be Shane Battier 2.0 with dogged defense and a reliable corner three-point shot. Well, think again. Pondexter turned down three point attempts to put the ball on the deck. It didn't always work out well; in some cases he passed on an open three for a highly contested two, but you've got to like the aggressiveness. Pondexter's emergence will make it tough to keep him on the bench over Tayshaun Prince. However, I've always felt you want to have that one guy off the bench who can be a game-changer and Pondexter has shown promise in that role. It also helps that his head coach isn't yelling at him every time down the floor. Pondexter had been a Lionel Hollins whipping boy and I have to think that messed with Q's head.

- Both Ed Davis and Jon Leuer have made definite strides since last season. Davis has added some bulk and definition to his upper body and has discovered a higher motor than what we saw last season. Meanwhile, Leuer makes smart plays, can hit a medium range jumper and defends his butt off. I was told by one Cleveland insider after the trade that the Cavaliers liked Leuer but felt that he was lacking in the confidence needed to perform at the NBA level. Coming off a summer with a sprained ankle that robbed him of Summer League and then an appendectomy, Leuer looks like more than a serviceable backup at the 4.

- Under the "Things We Try in Pre-Season" heading, Dave Joerger used Jerryd Bayless to guard O.J. Mayo down the stretch while Tony Allen swung a towel on the bench. Bayless stayed in Mayo's face and got a critical stop as the Grizzlies erased a late five-point deficit with a 10-2 close to the game. In a regular season game, I'm thinking the Grindfather is out there.

- Speaking of that 10-2 close, it featured a pretty pass from Marc Gasol to a cutting Mike Conley for an and-one that put the Grizzlies in front to stay. It was a play drawn up off a timeout by Joerger and it evoked memories of Tony Allen lauding Joerger's acumen in post-game interviews: "I love them great plays drawn up by coach Joerger."

- Hopefully someone gets Joerger a Costco-sized bag of throat drops. He's hoarse after four pre-season games, not strictly from yelling at players, but from talking them through their defensive rotations. One court side observer suggested he'll be the Western Conference's corollary to Chicago's Tom Thibodeau who always sounds like he's got gravel on the larynx.

- Larry Sanders stunned the crowd and two of the three officials by slapping the backboard away from the play. A technical foul was correctly assessed once the shock of hearing a massive "thwap" subsided.

- The Grizzlies set an unofficial record with five defensive three-second calls. Marc Gasol blamed it on the difference between European and NBA rules for defending in the paint. Ironically an NBA official observing the game told me that, in his opinion, dropping the defensive three-second rule wouldn't matter that much because it's a hard call to make, especially when the ball swings from side to side which results in referees changing position and area of responsibility. Here's your NBA pro tip for the day: if you're trying to draw a defensive three-second call, don't swing the ball to the opposite side of the floor.

- Nick Calathes continues to impress. The numbers don't show well with just two assists against three turnovers. Still, Calathes can finish at the rim, rebounds very well for a point guard and his court vision and quick release will make him a favorite with his teammates. However, his free throw shooting has been shaky at best and needs to improve, especially if the Grizzlies want to use him in end-game situations.

The Grizzlies play their next three on the road before returning on Friday, October 25 to face Houston at FedExForum.

Postgame Notes

Team Notables

  • Memphis evened its preseason record to 2-2, while Milwaukee fell to 0-4 in the preseason… The team will play its next three tilts on the road before finishing preseason play against Houston on Oct. 25 at FedExForum.
  • Memphis won its second-straight preseason game while posting over 100 points… the Grizzlies are 40-4 over the last two regular seasons when scoring over 100 points… Two of the four loses came in overtime.
  • Milwaukee came to Memphis ranked second in the NBA in preseason blocks per game at nine… Milwaukee tallied zero blocked shots against the Grizzlies.
  • After never trailing on Oct. 13 vs. Maccabi Haifa, Memphis did not trail by more than five points tonight against Milwaukee.

Key Stat of the Night

  • Memphis, which entered tonight averaging 20.0 turnovers per game, turned the ball over just 13 times tonight.

Key Run of the Night

  • Down 97-92 with 1:04 left in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies reeled off 10-straight points to take a 102-97 lead with 3.1 seconds left.

Player Notables

  • Quincy Pondexter led the Grizzlies in scoring with 24 points (9-of-14 FG) in his second preseason appearance and first start of the preseason. Pondexter’s 24 points topped his career single-game scoring high of 17 points (April 4, 2013 at Sacramento) and postseason high of 22 points in Game 4 of the 2013 Western Conference Finals.
  • Jerryd Bayless reached double figures in points for the third time in four preseason games… bayless scored 18 poitns (6-of-13 FG).
  • Brandon Knight led Milwaukee ins coring with 19 points (8-of-16 FG)… He also added in four rebounds and five assists.
  • O.J. Mayo made his return to FedExForum and was the first to get on the board with a 25-foot three-pointer… Overall, former Grizzly Mayo was 4-of-5 from three-pointers and scored 14 points overall.