Starting 5: Memphis is creepin’, Pop doesn’t care about storylines & Faried is a beast

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Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.

1: Memphis is creeping up on ya

The Grizzlies have had their share of injuries this season, but they’re now about as healthy as they’re going to get, and they’re making a healthy push in the West to supplant a few team that have gotten comfortable in their current positions in the standings. 

Last night, the Grizz beat the Clippers to move within a half game of the West’s fourth seed.  They’re two games behind the Lakers for the third seed.  They’ve won eight of their last 10, and they boast wins over the Lakers, Dallas, OKC and Miami in the at stretch.  

The problem for the Grizzlies is that everyone else in the top half of the West has gotten hot too.  Only the Lakers, at 6-4 over their last 10 are close to a .500 record over that run.  It makes it tough to gain ground when everyone is winning.  But Memphis is trying its best, and the schedule may cooperate.  They’ll have Phoenix, San Antonio and Utah coming up, then games against New Orleans twice, Minnesota, Charlotte, Portland and Cleveland before finishing in Orlando.  It’s not unrealistic to expect them to go 7-3 to close out the season (wow, it’s almost time to close out the season).  That might just be good enough to squeak by one, or maybe both of the LA teams.

2:  Gregg Popovich cares not for your story lines

So after writing about how everyone in the West is jockying for position, it’s time to remind everyone that Gregg Popovich just doesn’t give a damn. Obviously he’d love the top seed, but Pop realizes that the top seed doesn’t mean a thing if his Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker aren’t healthy enough to do anything with it.  

So with his Spurs tied with Oklahoma City, the Thunder facing the Bucks, a non-playoff team at the moment, and the Spurs facing a tough Utah squad… Pop sat his top 3 players.  He trotted out a starting lineup the featured three guys who weren’t even Spurs a few weeks ago as Patty Mills, Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw joined DeJuan Blair and Danny Green on the floor.  

It didn’t go so great for the new three (19 points on a combined 8-27 shooting) but the bench was nearly good enough to pull this out, but they fell to the Jazz in the 4th.  Couple that with OKC’s win and the Spurs are now a game behind the Thunder.  You won’t see Pop crying about it, though.  With a 5.5 game cushion between the Spurs and Lakers, Pop will do whatever it takes to make sure the Spurs are running at 100% in a few weeks.  And that includes potentially dropping a game or two.  

And if you’ve got a problem with it, YOU ask Pop about it.  I’m not going to be this guy

3:  HIGHLIGHTS!!!

Kenneth Faried has the nickname “Manimal” for good reason


 

Thabo Sefolosha with a vicious wrap-around dunk

Paul Millsap with the big follow flush

4:  Line of the Night: Kenneth Faried – 27 points, 17 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block

This kid is a beast.  You don’t hear a lot of talk about him when people talk about rookies, but he’s a player.  The 27 points and 17 rebounds are both career highs.  

Denver hit a rough patch thanks to some injuries, but if they can add a couple of nice pieces and keep most of the ones they have, they’ll be a dangerous team next season.

5:  You can quote me on that: 

“I had one (point) and four (rebounds) last game, and that’s not my game at all.  I’m a very energetic guy. I rebound the ball. I’m athletic and I can pretty much do things for this team to help them win. Last time I played them, I didn’t do any of that, so tonight I just wanted to make it my mission to stop David Lee and help my team win.”
     -Kenneth Faried 

“However you want to look at it, 13 games in 18 days or 16 games in 23 days or ending the season four in five nights, it’s just crazy.  So I’ve got to do something about it. It just doesn’t make sense to have those guys playing four in five nights, anything like that.”
     -Gregg Popovich, on resting his Big 3 

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