Grizzlies Impress Pippen With Defense & Readiness 

Grizzlies Impress Pippen With Defense & Readiness

Very Scary Bears
Don't hibernate on the Grizzlies ... they'll get ya
Flying under the radar this season is the impressive play of the Memphis Grizzlies. Only the Spurs have more victories than the Grizz, who are tied with the Pistons and the Mavericks with 13 apiece.

What has been the key to their success? Defense. Tuesday night's victory over the Hornets provided a great snapshot of how they're getting it done. Riding a six-game winning streak, the NBA's No. 1 defensive team held the Hornets to 73 points, 19 below their regular-season average. They also held the league's hottest rookie, Chris Paul, to two points on 1-for-8 shooting and he was averaging 17 going into the game. You have to go back to nearly two weeks ago to find the last team to score more than 80 points (answer: Mavericks on Nov. 26).

Mike Fratello deserves a lot of credit for not only implementing a good defensive game plan but also having them prepared every night. Jerry West and the front office made some nice offseason moves that flew under the radar but have paid off. The Grizzlies have some solid performers, more role players, guys that aren't going to hurt you night in and night out.

You look at James Posey who's now in Miami. He's very athletic, but with a very high volume in turnovers, very unpredictable, very inconsistent. You make that comparison to an Eddie Jones, who's a little more consistent, a guy that isn't going to turn the ball over. They have some solid play at the point guard position. in Damon Stoudamire, who isn't a flashy player but a consistent one. These players are better to coach for Fratello. You're not dealing with some young guys that you're trying to develop while also getting your ball club to play well.

Another reason for their success is the improved play of Pau Gasol who has also developed and matured into a much better player which has ultimately given them a bit of an advantage because he's having a superb season so far. He's responded very well to the added pressure and expectations placed on him by teammates and fans.

He just studied how he had played in the past and changed tremendously. Here is a guy who did a lot of flopping around, and now he seems to be adding a lot more toughness to his game. He appears much more assertive. You also saw it in his comments after the game last night, how he said he made a point to be more aggressive going to the hoop.

I think the Grizzlies are a sleeper team. They're a lot better team than people give them credit for and will only improve as the season progresses. Throw in the fact that they have guys coming off the bench (Mike Miller, Bobby Jackson) that can fill it up and play well overall, and they're a team to watch out for come playoff time.

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