The NBA: Still Underdogs

Tony Allen and Mike Conley are part of the underdog Memphis
Grizzlies, and they don't seem to mind.

*All images are by the Associated Press.

"These wins aren't going to be pretty, but we stuck with it for 48 minutes." – Tony Allen, after his game-winning tip against the GS Warriors.

I don’t think Memphis will have the prettiest of regular seasons, but I believe they’ll still be one of the 8 best teams in the West when the curtains raise for the playoffs. And, like last year, I think they will be underdogs in the first round, at the very least, but they will still compete and be very tough to beat.

On paper and in reality, Memphis isn’t the prettiest team, but they’lss stick with what they have and see what happens.

Their coach, Lionel Hollins, after all doesn't really think about what he doesn't have.

For one, they don’t have the lynchpin who towed them past the top-seeded Spurs in last year’s playoff run – Zach Randolph. Early reports suggest he might return a few games the All-Star Weekend, but to assume he’ll be 100% immediately is a little too much.

Still, Memphis fans can dream again. If Zebo does come back, and play relatively well and stay relatively healthy, then the Grizz become one heck of a team.

Remember Rudy Gay not being there in the playoffs last season?

He’ll be around now, and he’ll have a couple of points to prove:

1- That Memphis not having him in the 2011 Playoffs was a good thing, and
2- That he should’ve been an All-Star.

Sure, they’ll be some adjustment. Sure, Gasol’s and Gay’s numbers will probably go down a bit. Conley’s assists should make a jump, though, and overall the Grizz will be much tougher. Gasol, Gay and Zebo. Wow. Now that’s an All-World frontline right there.

And still, people will doubt them, will underestimate them.

Their team numbers aren’t stellar – they are Top 10 in just 2 key stats: Steals (#1) and Off. Rebounds (#4). They are Top 20 in ppg and are a middling team in FG% and total rpg.

And yet, they are #6 out West, just a game behind the Lakers.

They are on a 4-game winning run.

They should be able to handle Houston and Philly right before the All-Star break.

This should be another fun windup for the Grizzlies.

Nobody is counting on them to reprise last year’s magical run.

Once again, they’re not the prettiest, not the most star-studded.

But they’ll stick with it.

Once again, they’re underdogs.

Which is just the way they want it.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

SAS over LAC, 103-100
Gary Neal hit key three-pointers in regulation and overtime, Tony Parker scored 30 points and the Spurs held off the Clippers for their NBA-leading 10th consecutive victory. Neal stole the ball and hit the tying three-pointer with 5.7 seconds left in regulation, and his three with 25 seconds to go in overtime snapped a 98-98 tie. He finished with 17 points.
MEM over GSW, 104-103
Tony Allen scored on a tip-in with 5.6 seconds left to lift the Grizz past the Warriors for their fourth straight win. Rudy Gay led Memphis with 19 points, and O.J. Mayo had 18. Marc Gasol added 17 points and 13 rebounds, Marreese Speights had 16 points, Mike Conley finished with 15 points and 6 assists, and Allen had 11 points.
NJN over CHI, 97-85
Deron Williams scored 29 points, Kris Humphries had 24 points and 18 rebounds, and the Nets beat the Bulls to snap an eight-game losing streak. Derrick Rose missed his fifth straight game because of back pain, and the Nets took advantage, jumping out to a 22-3 lead while rolling to their first victory since Feb. 1.
POR over ATL, 97-77
LaMarcus Aldridge had 19 points and 10 rebounds in his return from a left ankle injury and the Blazers beat the Hawks to snap a four-game home losing streak. Nicolas Batum had 22 points to help the Trail Blazers end a six-game losing streak to the Hawks. Atlanta, meanwhile, has lost six of its last nine games.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Steph Curry (GSW) – 36
Monta Ellis (GSW) – 33
Tony Parker (SAS) – 30
Deron Williams (NJN) – 29
Kris Humphries (NJN) – 24

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Blake Griffin (LAC) – 20
Kris Humphries (NJN) – 18
Tim Duncan (SAS) - 17

Blake Griffin hauled down 20 rebounds, and still
the Clips lost out to San Antonio.

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Tony Parker (SAS) – 10
Josh Smith (ATL) – 9
Deron Williams (NJN) & Raymond Felton (POR) – 8

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Shelden Williams (NJN), Gary Neal (SAS), & Kirk Hinrich (ATL) – 3

Gary Neal played a big role in the Spurs' win
over LA.

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Too MANY with 2!!!

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Steph Curry (GSW) – 6
Deron Williams (NJN) & Gary Neal (SAS) – 5

Feb. 18, 2012 First Five
C – Marc Gasol (MEM) – 17pts, 13rebs, 3asts, 1blk
F – Kris Humphries (NJN) – 24pts, 18rebs, 5asts, 2blks, 1stl
F – Blake Griffin (LAC) – 22pts, 20rebs, 2asts, 1blk
G – Steph Curry (GSW) – 36pts, 6asts, 6 treys, 2rebs, 2stls
G – Monta Ellis (GSW) – 33pts, 6asts, 4 treys, 4rebs, 1stl

Steph Curry has been sensational after returning from
sick bay for the Warriors.

Honorable Mention:
Tony Parker (SAS) – 30pts, 10asts, 3rebs
Deron Williams (NJN) – 29pts, 8asts, 5 treys, 2rebs, 2blks, 1stl
Josh Smith (ATL) – 14pts, 10rebs, 9asts, 2stls, 1blk

Daily Zap:


*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Associated Press.
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