|Gay has helped the Grizzlies make their own luck. (Getty Images)|
Rudy Gay wore a headband Tuesday night against the Warriors for the first time in a long time. He wound up leading a furious comeback by the Grizzlies who closed on a 30-17 run for the win. Gay nailed a tough stepback jumper to give the Grizzlies a clinching three-point lead, and hit a free throw to push the lead to four. He finished with 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. So yeah, pretty good night for RG.
So was it the headband? Kind of, but not really. From the Memphis Flyer:
Toward the end of the brief on-court interview, sideline reporter Rob Fischer asked Gay about his decision to wear a headband during the game, which was a new look for him. Gay motioned back toward the rest of the team with a smile and said, “I wore the headband because the trainer says I always play bad when I wear the headband.” Then Gay looked into the camera, pointed, and channeled his inner Hulk Hogan with a message to viewers at home: “Kids out there, make your own luck. Make your own luck.”via Road Recap: Grizzlies 91, Warriors 90 — Where the Grizzlies Made Their Own Luck | Beyond the Arc.
I'm never sure on these things, but I think the word is "swag."
Over the last five games, Gay has averaged 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block, shooting 54 percent from the field. It is the kind of stat-stuffing performance that Memphis needs along with the ability to nail huge perimeter shots when the game is on the line.
Those two elements are crucial. Gay's not an elite scorer, but a quality one, not an elite rebounder for his position, but a good one. Defensively is where he shines. His activity and anticipation in the passing lane sparks the fast break for the Grizzlies and that constant pressure is what puts teams on their toes.
In the Grizzlies' second round loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, they found themselves in a certain situation time and time again. Low shot clock or game clock, trying to come up with a perimeter bucket due to the attention Zach Randolph drew. Without Gay the Grizzlies had no alternative but to try and manufacture one. But in the NBA, you need a player to rise up and nail a big shot in-between those plays where ball movement is key. Gay was missing from that series, and after all the talk about Memphis being better without him, Gay is putting that talk to rest. The Grizzlies don't rely on one player, but if the entire team can collectively put themselves in a position to win, Rudy Gay is becoming the player to put them over when it counts.
The Grizzlies have survived the first 20 days without Zach Randolph and are leading the division. When Randolph went down, people said it was bad luck.
Make your own luck, kids.