Resting your two best big men normally isn't a recipe for dominating the boards, but then again nothing ever seems normal in the preseason.
Witth Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph observing from the sidelines, Mike Conley and Rudy Gay led Memphis with 20 points apiece and the Grizzlies nabbed a startling 17 offensive rebounds on their way to a 97-94 win in La Crosse. In the process, the Grizzlies reminded us that one of the Bucks' biggest weaknesses from last season (ahem, cough, defensive rebounding, cough) might not be solved just yet--not when the immortal Hamed Haddadi, Ronald Dupree, Speights and Jerome Jordan combine for 14 offensive boards..
Otherwise, Backup-turned-starter Marreese Speights was probably the Grizzlies' best player on the night, killing the Bucks from midrange on his way to 16 points, ten rebounds and three blocks. The game wasn't on television anywhere, so here are some observations based on listening to the game and following along on the box score:
- Solid scoring nights from Monta Ellis (9/19 fg, 20 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast) and Brandon Jennings (5/9 fg, 5/6 threes, 19 points) provided the most obvious silver lining for the Bucks, with Jennings' threes (he made 5/6 and missed all three of his two point attempts) helping shoot the Bucks back into the game in the second quarter and Ellis helping the Bucks hang tough in the third. To nitpick: that's still not a particularly efficient scoring line from Ellis despite hitting nearly half his shots.
- Larry Sanders had some decent moments but was a party to the Grizzlies' rebounding dominance, notching a -15 rating for the game after starting alongside Samuel Dalembert.
- Ersan Ilyasova was solid off the bench (4/9 fg, 11 pts, 5 rebs, 19 min) after his 1/9 clunker in Chicago, giving the Bucks a shot in the arm when he checked in late in the first quarter. To be clear, I would certainly expect Ilyasova to be starting by the time the Bucks open the season in Boston on November 2, but it's not a bad thing for Skiles to get a look at some different lineups in the meantime.
- Tobias Harris hung with Gay in the early going, but things seemed to head south for Harris (4/7 fg, 10 pts) after he foolishly fouled Gay on a long three pointer at the end of the first half.
- Ekpe Udoh made a series of key defensive plays early in the fourth to help the Bucks mount a rally, but ultimately it wasn't enough. Still, good to have Udoh back in uniform after a week on the sidelines with a banged up knee, particularly with John Henson out for couple weeks with his own knee issue.