Ok, this will probably be a short one as I have to be up in a few hours.
Before I talk about the game, I want to deal with the post game call in show.
Look guys, before anybody calls me out for going back on my words about not talking about things from the past I want to say this. Both Denari and Kevin Lee were making a point to say this stuff so I think it is more than newsworthy.
For the Jermaine O'Neal fans in the audiance you might want to skip over this.
BTW, this was not from callers prodding this. They both spoke about this and at differant times.
When Kevin was discussing who the Pacers would let go vs. keep the topic came up of Austin. I'll spare you the specifics of his thoughts on this, but at one point in time he hypothisized about Austin being kept around for leadership.
Kevin Lee then made it a point to say, unprovoked, that this time around Austin could be a leader because the last time he was here Jermaine O'Neal was the SELF annointed leader of the team and would not allow for Austin to be a leader. He then went on to say that Jermaine would not accept leadership from anyone else and that (& this is the part I found fascinating) MANY of the players resented this.
Denari was on later talking about his conversation with Roy Hibbert. He stated that Roy said that he felt obligated to play well because both Rasho and Jeff had gone out of their way to help him be a better player and that neither of them were resentfull or competing with him for min. on the floor. BTW, this converastion say's a lot (& I mean a LOT) about Foster & Rasho not to mention Roy.
Then Denari goes on to make this statement (again unproked from a caller). He said that this is the single biggest change he has seen from the team over the past couple of years. You have players playing for each other and helping each other get better and that there is no hidden agenda's or some players trying to keep other players down.
You can take that as you want to, however listening to the conversation the context certainly screamed Jermain O'Neal to me.
I said on here about 4-5 years ago that when he was gone people would start to hear about some of the behind the scenes shinnanigans he was pulling. I think this is just the beginning and believe me from what I've heard over the years this is just the tip of the ice berg.
Ok, now back to the game.
I'll say it right now.
Every min. that Marquis Daniels is on the floor this season, is a min. that should go to Brandon Rush.
Look I don't know the guy from Adam because I don't follow college ball. But I think I know a pro basketball player when I see one and certainly during that game I saw a pro basketball player.
Uncle Buck wasn't at this game so he missed out on what surely would have been one of his favorite things. Defense being played on the wings.
Look we can all gush over Hibbert all we want, and believe me I will, but let us not overlook that game by Rush. Forget the sweet stroke he was putting up because we all know that can come and go, focus on that defense he was playing. The guy was downright disrupting play. He was deflecting passes, he was blocking shots, he was using that massive wingspan to make the guards throw sloppy passes.
Overall this was not the defense played by a rookie. Hell this was some of the best wing defense since, well since Satan roamed our courts. Yes, I know Artest. I'm trying to block him from my mind.
Anyway again I will say if this guy can play 1/3 as well during the regular season we have one hell of a find.
Hibbert. Anything you want to say about him is probably true. He just took over in the second half and started to play above and beyond the Memphis big men.
I don't want to get caught up in the hyperbole surrounding him right now, but I want to say this.
I love to watch Roy Hibbert play basketball. Frankly, it's just fun to watch.
As to people complaining about him getting two boards off of tipping on the offensive end. Meh... Foster would lose about half of his rebounds if we only counted true rebounds anyway over the years so I think we can let Roy have these two.
He is getting better on defense. He is not losing his player while chasing the ball like he did the first couple of games.
He can pass, he can shoot, he can block and he can crow. By God, HE IS THE PAN!!!!
However while each of them playing individually was fun to watch, nothing can beat the give and go and pick and roll these two were running together.
I kept seeing that and thinking to myself, this is the franchise for the next 5-8 years and I like it.
Also am I wrong here or did the offense seem differant last nigh? No, not just the fact that we were actually hitting shots. I mean did it look more structured and less garbage sling the three that I have come to know and loath?
Could just be that Memphis sucks at defense so maybe, but something about this looked differant.
Ok, while it is great to see the rookies go at it let us not forget another player who was outstanding.
THAT is the Jaret Jack that I thought we were getting. This guy just downright tore up the Memphis back court with his defense. He and Rush together were just downright murder on the Griz. His offense was outstanding as well. He seemed much more in control of the team when he was on the floor. He didn't hit a single field goal but I believe he was a catalyst for our teams success in the second half.
Just think a year ago p.g. was our weakest single spot on the floor. Now it is one of our strengths. Bird has done an outstanding job of rebuilding this train wreck with the assets he had available.
In reality there was no bad player for our team. Everybody that played contributed.
To me though, if I were to make a choice as to the single biggest differance between this game and other is the team defense. We were very very very disruptive to the Grizzlies.