Beating the Golden State Warriors is no easy feat. Beating them twice in two meetings – one of them at home – is pretty much unheard of. But on Friday night, the Memphis Grizzlies clawed their way out of a 24-point hole on the back of a huge fourth quarter to take down the home team in overtime.
“The team we have, we’re all in” said the Grizzlies’ James Ennis after the win. “The first game we won, so this was a big game for us to show that we can compete with anyone in the league.”
A dominant offensive effort from Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph – including some big time baskets in the final minutes of regulation and overtime from Conley – set up the Memphis win, be it was defensive effort throughout the game that got them over the line.
“Defense first. That’s our motto, and defense wins games. We like to grind.” said Ennis, when asked about shutting down the explosive Warriors backcourt.
The defensive effort from the Grizzlies was a key factor in their comeback, and some big stops from Tony Allen earned the praise of Ennis.
“Tony Allen played really good tonight, he got about 6 steals. He’s just everywhere, that’s first team you know. It’s good to be a part of a team like this where everybody’s hungry.”
Throughout 2015-16, Ennis played limited games with New Orleans and Miami before ending the season with Memphis. After sticking with the Grizzlies, and establishing himself as an integral part of the squad, Ennis says that it’s really help to take his game to another level.
“By me being out there, I just try to do as much as I can. Even the little things to help the team as much as I can in any way possible. Even if I’m on the bench I’m up on my feet cheering.
“It really helped me coming back to Memphis and having a coach that believes in me.”
Prior to beginning his NBA career, Ennis spent some time playing in the Australian National Basketball League with the Perth Wildcats, and he still has a lot of fond memories of his time down under.
“I miss Australia,” he said. “Perth was a beautiful city, man. I used to live in Scarborough and used to walk down by the beaches, and everyone’s kind out there, good people.
“I went back last summer to do a camp, and I’m looking forward to going back up there again and seeing everybody.”
The Australian NBL pathway has now yielded success not only for Ennis, but also an NBA Champion with the Cavaliers’ Jordan McCrae. As more players start to sign on with the NBL – including an ex team-mate of Ennis’, Casper Ware, who is currently playing with Melbourne, Ennis says that he really recommends that more players head to Australia to build up experience.
“Never be afraid to go over the water because everyone’s watching and you never know, anything is possible.”
With the way that they have been playing so far this season, Ennis and his Grizzlies are starting to demand the respect from not only the top teams in the NBA, but also the fans who had much lower expectations for the team that what they have delivered. Only time will tell is they can continue to maintain this level of intensity, but in the meantime – they are a lot of fun to watch play basketball!
Feature Image: RealGM
Story Images: Zimbio