It was supposed to be an easy road win in Philly for the Grizzlies last night. The 76ers had only won two games all season, and the Grizzlies had the second best record in the NBA at 18-4. The Grizzlies were tired from their double overtime win over the Hornets in Memphis the previous night and didn’t land in Philadelphia until 3am. They were visibly tired and had no grit and grind spunk, until the last 25 seconds of the game. Those last 25 seconds and the OT that followed turned the worst game of the season into one of the most exciting games, especially for me who drove two hours to see my Grizzlies play.
I left my house at 3:30pm Saturday and was parked at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at 5:30pm. I went into the Cure Insurance Club that opens at 5:30 and got my Philly Cheesesteak and iced tea – I needed to be caffeinated throughout the game and the two hour drive home after. The Club was empty this year. Last season when I went to the Grizzlies-76ers game, it was packed in there and I couldn’t get a table. But in March it was still sunny at 5:30pm.
At 6:30, we were let into the arena and I was in my seat between the Grizzlies bench and the Grizzlies tunnel – my same exact seat as last season Section 123 Row 1 Seat 3. The Grizzlies were already on the court shooting around. Marc Gasol was the first one to leave the floor to go back to the locker room. He stopped to sign autographs. I told him please don’t make it as close as last night. He said, “Let’s hope not.” I said yeah no overtime. He laughed. (I think I may have jinxed us.) Next to come by and sign autographs were Jarnell Stokes, Quincy Pondexter, Jon Leuer, Beno Udrih and Zach Randolph. When Coach Jaeger came out of the tunnel for the game, he gave me the nod. I posted a picture of me in my ZBo jersey with my Growel Towel and the Grizzlies retweeted me and then Grizzlies announcer Brevin Knight tweeted me to “be loud.” I shared that sentiment with the two Grizzlies fans sitting next to me and the two behind me. There were probably about five other Grizzlies fans, and the 10 of us tried to be as loud as we could against the big booers of Philly. Right before tipoff, Will Smith walked out of the Grizzlies tunnel right past us. Very cool he’s still reppin his hometown – apparently he’s a minority owner of the 76ers.
Memphis played like crap for the first three and half quarters of the game. The Grizzlies were down 21-28 at the end of the first quarter, 43-50 at the Half, 68-80 at the end of the third quarter and down by 16 in the fourth quarter. I’ve watched every Grizzlies game on my NBA League Pass from my couch at home, and the one I game I actually go to (and drive two hours to) is the worst game of the season. But I wasn’t defeated. I never gave up hope. #BelieveMemphis As ZBo came out of the tunnel for the second half, he gave me the nod and I saw fire in his eyes. In the 4th quarter, the Grizzlies scored 41 points to the 76ers 29 points. Mike Conley had 16, Zach Randolph had 9, and Courtney Lee had 8. In fact with 2:30 left in the game, Conley had just 19 points and finished the game with a career high 36 points and 9 assists. With 25 seconds left, the Grizzlies trailed by three points. At the buzzer, Conley hit a 3 point shot sending the game into overtime. The Grizzlies dominated the OT and won 120-115. In 24 hours, the Memphis Grizzlies won back to back games in OT – both thanks to Mike Conley. Along with Conley’s career game, ZBo had a double double with 24 points and 11 rebounds, Big Spain had 18 points and 9 rebounds and Lee had 19 points.
What a game! What a night! We win ugly, but we win! I was out of the parking by 10:45pm and suddenly was starving because I hadn’t eaten, or even left my seat all game. I was too nervous, but as soon as all that adrenaline wore off I was starving. I had the other half of my philly cheesesteak in my bag, but would eat it when I got home. I pulled in my driveway at 12:30am. My throat was hurting (and still is) from all the screaming at the end of the game, and from singing U2 all the way up and all the back from Philly.
Now the Grizzlies have two days off – and they need the rest after two back to back OT games. On Tuesday they host the number one Golden State Warriors (20-2) on ESPN. But I won’t see my Grizzlies again until exactly one month from today January 14, 2015 in Brooklyn in the front row between the Grizzlies bench and tunnel at Barclays. Happy New Year to me!
Click here to see all of my pictures from the Grizzlies – 76ers game last night in Philly 12.13.14.