Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Team - Grizzlies vesus New Orleans

Wednesday night, the Grizzlies face off against a re-tooled New Orleans Pelicans team. They have some young guys like Anthony Davis (averaging 22 PPG/12 RPG). This team isn't a pushover. They lost 104-98 at Phoenix Tuesday night, setting their record at 1-3.

Even with missing F Ryan Anderson's 3-point shooting prowess, this team has some talented parts. Davis is gonna be a handful for either Randolph or Gasol. Davis can out-jump either, and he's gonna be a focal point of New Orleans' offense. He's also a good shot blocker. Fortunately, Memphis has Kosta Koufos who can come in and defend Davis/sacrifice some fouls in defending Davis.

New Orleans also has Al-Farouq Aminu at small forward, 7-footer Jason Smith at center, Eric Gordon at shooting guard, and Jrue Holiday at the point. This starting lineup is competitive. I would guess they will want to run as much as reasonably possible. This should give Memphis fits in the first half, since the Grizz have made slow starts an ongoing habit. Aminu is a willing wingman on the break, although he isn't the most electrifying skywalker on the break. Gordon shoots a lot, but is a decent shooter. Holiday is quick enough to stay with Conley on both ends. This Pelicans team matches up with Memphis pretty well.

Bench play may be the deciding factor. The Bayless that scored 15 fourth quarter points against Boston can give Memphis a huge lift. Will we see that Bayless tonight? Some combination of Koufos, Ed Davis and Jon Leuer will have to produce on both ends against Davis.

New Orleans has former University of Memphis Tiger Tyreke Evans coming off the bench. He's good at handling the ball and getting to the rim as a hybrid guard. His outside shot still needs work. Anderson's injury (chipped toe on right foot) takes away an offensive threat that New Orleans may not be able to replace. G Brian Roberts and SF Anthony Morrow are quality substitutes that will keep Bayless and Pondexter occupied when both teams use second unit personnel.

New Orleans is averaging just under 101 PPG early on. Memphis is averaging 104.5 in its' first four games. That is close to my final score guess - Memphis 103, New Orleans 101. It will be an entertaining game. Davis will be the best player on the floor, and people are gonna start talking him up as Most Improved Player. He'll get 25 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks and a couple of "oh, my" moments.

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Team - Grizzlies versus Boston

Saturday night in Dallas, Memphis fell behind 16 points by the end of the first quarter, and couldn't climb completely out of that hole. Gasol, Randolph and Conley scored well (combined for 68 of the team's 99 points). The rest of the team shot 13/40 FG/A. Obviously, that won't do. Monday night, the Grizz host the new-look Celtics. Boston is 0-3, after a Sunday night loss at Detroit.

The Celtics have guys who have been productive members of a rotation in other places (Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford). With Rajan Rondo still out (recovering from torn ACL), where will they get easy buckets?

Sunday night, rookie Kelly Olynyk came off the bench to lead Boston with 15 points. He also tied Avery Bradley for the team lead with 8 rebounds. Bradley, who scored 13 points in the loss, was the only starter in double figures.

Since Memphis had Sunday night off, and Boston is in this back-to-back, I expect an ugly game. Memphis will score a little more efficiently this time, but maybe not as many as against Dallas.

I expect the final to be something like Memphis 90, Boston 76. The Grizzlies' three leaders will do just that. Randolph, Gasol and Conley will get around 18 apiece. The bench will get more playing time Monday night, since Memphis will be comfortably in control most of the game. Maybe Allen, Prince and guys off the bench will use this game to rediscover their shooting strokes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Old Dude, Old Movies - "Scandal Sheet"

Released in 1952, this is an intense picture that film noir fans will like. Broderick Crawford leads a strong cast. John Derek. Donna Reed. Harry Morgan. Rosemary DeCamp. This team is first-rate. The story is taut and suspenseful. Well-done, all around.

Crawford is "Mark Chapman", the editor, heart and soul of a formerly esteemed New York paper that turned into the gossip rag named in the title. Derek is "Steve", the star reporter who aspires to be just like his boss. Steve is a streetwise punk reporter who doesn't mind being unscrupulous in order to scoop the competition.  Morgan is Steve's sidekick photographer "Biddle", capable but jaded by seeing too many murder scenes. Reed is "Julie", the features writer and product of a finishing school. She's deeply disillusioned by the paper's slide into low-brow tabloid journalism.

The paper is running roughshod over the community, but Chapman doesn't care as long as the paper's net worth continues to grow. The paper is increasingly profitable, the stockholders cash the dividend checks (even as they complain about the tone of the paper), and he's a big man in the city.

He manipulates his readers in big ways and small. The paper even stoops so low as to put on a "lonely hearts" dance (young folk, ask your grandparents or other seniors about this). In his cynical way, Chapman wants to manipulate the gathering into fodder for several sensational front-page stories. Lonely men and women of all shapes and ages have gathered, with the hope of finding love. Off to one side, a middle-aged lady named "Charlotte" (DeCamp) takes in the proceedings. Eventually, she gets up the nerve to approach Chapman, and coerces him into talking. Later that evening, Charlotte ends up dead.

This type of lurid, salacious story is the type Steve loves to chase. With Biddle in tow, Steve runs all over town after clues. He is every bit as tenacious as his boss, and he knows breaking this case before any other paper (or even the police) will put bonuses in his pocket as well as Mark's. "Charlie Barnes" (Henry O'Neill), a former colleague who's down on his luck, has evidence identifying the murderer. Charlie's penchant for drink has killed what was a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting career. Even now, as Charlie tries to tell Steve and Julie what he has, his fondness for booze undermines his veracity. Charlie their doubt & decides to take his information to a rival paper. As he approaches the building of the rival paper, a shadowy figure lures Charlie into an alley. Charlie gets bludgeoned to death, and the headlines get even more feverish.

As Steve gets closer, Mark also realizes his professional dream of actually owning the paper comes within reach.  Mark directly profits from his low-brow approach to handling news, but he has secrets that could ruin it all.

Finally, Steve finds another person who can identify Charlotte's killer. The climax is tense, and the look on Steve's face when the killer is confirmed is priceless.

This is a great movie. The more I see Derek's work as a younger actor, the more I like it. He had a way with the young, sharp-dressed supremely confident guy. He held his own and then some with pros like Crawford and Reed. If you love film noir and get a chance to see this film, do it.

My Team - Game 2 of 82 - Grizzlies versus Detroit

Friday night, Memphis gets to open the home season at FedEx Forum. Ought to be a sell-out, a raucous crowd of Memphians cheering on the home team. Detroit isn't a pushover, though.

Even with Jennings and Stuckey being out with injuries, Detroit looked cohesive against Washington Wednesday night in an 11-point victory. Expect more of the same on Friday in their first road game of the year. Monroe and Josh Smith up front will be handful for Memphis' front line. Monroe went for 24 points and 16 rebounds. Memphis needs to check him off the boards.

In Memphis' opening loss at San Antonio, there were some interesting signs. One, the team took 93 shots (quite a few for this team). Maybe the same will happen on Friday night. Also, Mike Miller went 2/3 in 3 PT FG/A, as a part of his 11 points off the bench. Prince only played 20 minutes in the opener, and may be at a matchup disadvantage in this game. Gasol scored 14 and added 9 rebs in 34 minutes, but Randolph only scored 2 in 25 minutes. The Grizzlies need more from each player up front.

For Friday night, Ed Davis and Jon Leuer may be keys, as young frontliners who have to match Detroit's Drummond-Monroe-Smith combination. Bynum will direct the offense, but Conley should be able to match Bynum's effort. Allen should also win his matchup with Billups.

If it becomes a run-and-gun game, Detroit could squeak out a victory. I'm rooting for Memphis, but I wouldn't be surprised if Detroit pulled out a 105-99 or so victory. If the Grizz are 0-2 after Friday night, will the organization start to feel some pressure?