Memphis' eight-game, preseason run is in full swing. The emphasis goes on preseason, and just for the record, the Grizz were one up and one down after the first two games – a win against Real Madrid last Saturday (Oct. 6) and a loss to the Chicago Bulls the following Tuesday.
Game one at the FedExForum offered a glimpse of how well the Grizzlies' core starting five can play together. With the starters in most of the game, Memphis defeated Real Madrid 105-93.
"It was a good start," said Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins. "It is a good baseline to draw on and it was a tough test, as I thought it would be. I am glad it is over and we can get back to playing the teams in the NBA and the way they play. Obviously, we are in the West and there are a lot of teams that play small, so I have to get ready for it."
Grizz forward Rudy Gay led all scorers with 27 points, including 16 in the first half. Center Marc Gasol posted a game-high 16 rebounds, with 16 points. Five Grizz players finished in double figures.
"The key for us was that we had 70 points in the paint," Hollins said. "They were 9-of-34 from the three-point line, so we held them at 26 percent from the three-point line, which was huge. We came back from a deficit in the first half with rebounding."
From Zach Randolph's viewpoint, "Everybody played good tonight." Asked about the chemistry he and Gay displayed down the stretch, Randolph put it this way: "Rudy's my man. We've always played well together. Everybody will see this year. We've all been together a couple of years, so we know each other's play. We have to keep pushing and stay together."
Gasol faced his Olympic teammate and
Real Madrid featured Gasol's Olympic teammate, guard Rudy Fernandez, who finished with a team-high 16 points and four assists. Eleven of Fernandez's 16 points came in the first quarter.
Real Madrid's visit was part of the Euroleague Basketball Tour 2012.
On the road...
On Tuesday, the Grizzlies traveled to Chicago, where they fell to the Bulls 92-88. The starters rested and the game depended on the bench, with rookie Tony Wroten and newly acquired Jerryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington making their debuts as Grizzlies.
Luol Deng of the Bulls led all scorers with 18 points. Jerome Jordan topped Memphis' scorers, with 13 points, also adding 5 rebounds.
"As a unit, we just didn't play well," Hollins said. "That was especially true in the second half. I thought in the third quarter we just came out sluggish. I made changes but they didn't work and we had too many turnovers.
"We just have to play better and with more force," said Hollins. "To win in this league, the key is to have mental toughness. We didn't and that was big for them. Their defense was really tough in the second half."
Grizz starting guard Mike Conley did not play, which opened the door for Bayless. He clocked almost 20 minutes and finished with seven points.
"I just played who I wanted," Hollins said. "There was no pressure at all. This is what the preseason is for. I didn't play Marc or Tony (Allen) in the second half or Mike Conley. We lost this because of our sloppy play and lack of concentration."
Allen relished the chance to play against his younger brother, Ryan Allen.
"I told him he should play off me and guard the shooter, but he wasn't listening," Allen said. "It was special to be out there against him. Im sure Mom was teared up, but if she was, they were tears of joy."
NOTE: The Grizzlies will face the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday (Oct. 14) at FedExForum.