Grizzlies and Vince Carter Turn Back the Clocks, Defeat Bucks 113-93
By: Jeffrey Wright
MEMPHIS | The moral of The Great Gatsby is that you can’t recreate the past, but for one night in FedExForum in March, I don’t think anyone seemed mind that the Grizzlies found a way to do so, other than perhaps the Milwaukee Bucks.
After news broke that Chandler Parsons is likely to miss the rest of 2017 with a torn meniscus in his left knee, David Fizdale started his third different starting lineup in four games, but only this time, jubilation rather than apprehension and anxiety seemed to take over FedExForum.
Behind the efforts of 40-year old Vince Carter, the Grizzlies (37-30) held a lead after the first quarter for the first time since a loss in Dallas on March 4th. The “ageless one” hit all three shots he took during the first period, including two from three-point range, for eight points while also adding three rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
“Wow,” Fizdale said of Carter’s performance. “Every time, he never ceases to amaze me. I challenge the veterans to give more, to invest more, and the guy just keeps coming. I don’t know how you can ever write off Vince Carter. He is such a pro.”
When the clock finally expired and the Grizzlies defeated the Bucks (32-34), Carter wouldn't miss a single shot and finished with 24 points on 8-of-8 shooting (6-for-6 from 3-pt) and added five rebounds, three steals, and two assists.
“Hey, better late than never,” Carter said of his performance. “I just try to do my job, and to be honest with you, I didn’t realize it until Chandler (Parsons) said something to me, and I’d rather not (know). Just play me.”
Carter was simply amazing, spearheading a performance that finally gave not only Grizzlies fans a sigh of relief but also removed a large burden of the proverbial shoulders of the team.
“He’s been in every role that you can see,” Marc Gasol said of Carter. “He’s been the alpha dog. He’s been the second guy, third, fourth, fifth spade, and the bench guy, not even playing in two of the games. He’s seen it all. He’s not afraid to shoot the ball. He’s obviously great at a lot of things and a playmaker too, so he fits right in.”
FedExForum had a completely different atmosphere. While the Grizzlies headed to the locker room at halftime on Saturday night to a chorus of grumblings and boos, they left the floor to a standing ovation on Monday night.
Third quarters have been the Grizzlies’ undoing during their recent struggles as they have been outscored on average by 4.9 points by opponents during their last 10 games, but Monday night wouldn’t be the same as Carter quickly added two threes and set the tone for the rest of the quarter. By the end of the third, the Grizzlies had stymied a Bucks (32-34) run and actually extended the lead by a point to 11 headed into the final frame. The Grizzlies would finish the job outscoring the Bucks 28-19 during the fourth quarter to defeat the Bucks 113-93, and they won each quarter for the first time since a February 1st trip to Denver.
“The third quarter has just been devastating for us,” Fizdale said. “It’s really been the quarter that’s taken our morale. The last thing we said coming out is, ‘We cannot have a poor third quarter,’. I didn’t even care about shots falling. I just wanted superior effort, just flying around and competing our tails off and making everything tough. Somehow the shots seem to fall when you do that out of karma. It was nice to see.”
Whether the criticism surround the Grizzlies starting lineups was merited or not, the fact remains that the Grizzlies starters were not performing. During the previous two games entering tonight, the Hawks and Clippers respectively, the starters combined to go -25 and -16 during each first half. However, that would not be the case as Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Carter, JaMychal Green, and Gasol would combine to finish the first half +19 to help the Grizzlies build a double-digit lead heading into the locker room.
To blame the Grizzlies’ recent struggles entirely on Parsons would be unfair, but one couldn’t help but notice that the Grizzlies that hit the floor for game 67 looked more like the team that has become familiar to both Memphians and observers of the NBA.
“There’s no way I’m changing this lineup, are you kidding me?” Fizdale quipped following the Grizzlies first win in six games. “I’m superstitious right now about this win. I wouldn’t change the lineup for nothing. It always kind of sets things in motion when you lose a guy that was in your rotation. It kind of simplifies it for a coach a lot of times.”
Sometimes the easiest answer is the best answer, and returning to familiar hands got the Grizzlies back in the win column.Three of the core four (Conley, Allen, and Gasol) were back in the starting lineup and combined with the efforts of Zach Randolph off the bench accounted for 62 points, 19 rebounds and assists, and five steals.
Who says you can’t go home?