We've talked a lot about the bench this season, because the bench has been awful. Mempis (that's on purpose, because it amuses me) normally has a good-to-great bench. This seemed like the kind of game in which the starters would play to a stalemate, and the Mempis bench would crush ours like a bunch of blue-uniformed bugs.
What actually happened is that the starters played to a stalemate in the first quarter, and then the bench . . . totally dominated the Grizz bench (Grench? I'm running with that). Ronny Turiaf was especially excellent in his return.
Let's take it player-by-player.
Kevin Love - Fucked around and got a triple double. Twenty-four points on 15 shots. Sixteen rebounds, ten assists. Only two turnovers. We need to keep this player. Make it so, Flip! A+
Ricky Rubio - 14/7/3/3. His shooting was timely, but Ricky's biggest contribution tonight was aggravating the hell out of Mike Conley and all of the other Mempis guards. That jumper-steal-layup sequence in the third was majestic. A
Kevin Martin - Pretty good shooting, and not much else. His fast-break passing with Brewer was pretty great, though. Twenty-one points go a long way. B
Corey Brewer - Brewer was mostly invisible this game, for both good and bad. He didn't score much--wasn't really part of the offense--but didn't make too many stupid decisions. He did his fast breaking like usual. B
Gorgui Dieng - I like this kid more all the time. He mostly played within himself, took the shots that were open, passed pretty well, and played solid defense. Five turnovers, though. One was a rookie mistake. He took the defensive rebound and started looking for options before he cleared. One of the Mempis guards stripped him from behind while he was trying to make a decision. He'll figure that out. B+
Ronny Turiaf - In his first game back, Ronny was excellent. Didn't miss a shot from the field (FTAs, on the other hand . . .), collected seven rebounds and three blocks. His energy was awesome, and his mere presence strengthens our bench. He's my player of the game. A+
Jose Juan Barea - Nobody embodies the bench's value tonight more than JJ. It's not even a matter of Good JJ vs. Bad JJ. We had both. Bad: 1-6 shooting. Good: Seven assists in 15 minutes with one turnover. Good JJ was Awesome JJ tonight, and he was key to the Wolves bench (Wench? Yeah. I'll run with it.) building a seven point halftime lead. A
Shabazz Muhammad - ShaMu (Push It!) shot efficiently and . . . did almost nothing else. Two rebounds. Zeroes in every other category. Still, it seemed he did what was asked of him, and he didn't make any mistakes to make me put my head in my hands. B+
Air Bud, DCHam, Humminator - The rest of the bench didn't do much of note. Three of eight for eight points, six rebounds, and one assist among them in 27 minutes. Eh. C+
General notes on Mempis:
This isn't the Mempis team that routinely gives the good guys fits. Gasol scored, but didn't punish our frontcourt like he normally does. Z-Bo didn't seem all there. It was weird. The (very few) posters at Grizzly Bear Blues seemed to regard this as a recent trend--they're just playing soft.
I'll take the win, though. Mempis is (theoretically) fighting for the playoffs. We beat them while undermanned.
EDIT: A special note for the Mempis broadcast team of Mike Somethingorother and Brevin Knight. They were actually solid. As TMiss noted in the game thread, they went on an extended discussion of Love leaving, which was irritating, and they whined about not getting foul calls quite a bit, but other than that, they were good.