Entrusted with taking over a struggling team for the second time in two years, former Timberwolves assistant and new Memphis interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff vows that his team still has its grit and grind, even if Zach Randolph and Tony Allen are gone and star guard Mike Conley is injured.
“I don’t think we’ve changed that mentality,” said Bickerstaff, who was promoted from associate head coach when the Grizzlies fired David Fizdale last week. “The idea of grit and grind is of toughness, physicality. It’s a makeup and mind-set of not only our guys, but I think it’s a reflection of the city. … Those guys in there are tough guys. They don’t back down from anybody and they’re not afraid of anybody.
“They’re not afraid to get on the floor. They’re not afraid to mix it up. What grit and grind is, it’s a willingness to get dirty and do the hard things most people aren’t willing to do, and I think we still have those guys in that locker room.”
Bickerstaff took over Houston when Kevin McHale was fired early in the 2015-16 season. The Wolves visit Memphis on Monday.
Don’t look now, but Cleveland has won 10 consecutive games after a 5-7 start. The Cavaliers have done it after LeBron James scored 57 points in a victory over Washington and delivered his 57th career triple-double over Charlotte.
And get this: Kevin Love is playing defense, something Wolves fans never accused him of doing. He faced big men Andre Drummond, Joel Embiid, Hassan Whiteside, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan during the Cavs’ 12-3 November and outplayed many of them on both ends.