When Shane Battier was traded from the Grizzlies to the Rockets on draft night in June 2006, it was like the line from Don McLean's hit "American Pie" in which it was "the day the music died."
That's how much Battier, who was a rookie on the first Griz team when it moved from Vancouver in 2001-02, was loved in Memphis. He was the face of the franchise, a likeable normal, fellow who was an incredibly smart and unselfish player, the heart of the three Griz playoff teams.
On Thursday, just before the draft deadline, the Griz traded 2009 draft bust Hasheem Thabeet, DeMarre Carroll and a draft choice to the Rockets for Battier. And even before Battier played his first game Saturday night in his familiar No. 31 Griz uniform, the city and fan base were rejoicing.
And so was Battier, who was glad to return to the Grizzlies, to settle an old debt of being 0-12 in three Griz playoff appearances. The Grizzlies are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference and are trying to survive without star forward Rudy Gay, who's out at least two more weeks with a partially dislocated shoulder.
"We wanted to win a playoff game so bad for this city, preferably a home game, and let them taste what a home playoff win feels like because there's nothing better," Battier said. "Having playoff success at Houston and winning a series, it's the ultimate. After all the hard work we put in here, it was tough to walk away knowing we couldn't give the city that. That's my goal, to make the playoffs and let the home crowd see a couple of home victories."
In 59 games with the Rockets this season, the 32-year-old Battier averaged 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds. In five seasons with the Grizzlies, Battier averaged 10.5 points and 4.8 rebounds.
Battier had two points, two rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in almost 25 minutes of action in his Griz debut in Saturday's 28-point demolition of the Kings.
GRIZZLIES 120, KINGS 92: The Griz, having had a few days rest, started the game a bit too anxious to put away the road-weary Kings, who were finishing playing their fourth game in five nights since the All-Star break. But after Sacramento led 28-23 at the end of the first quarter, Memphis dropped the hammer on the visitors. The Grizzlies scored a franchise-record 78 points in the paint, with starters Zach Randolph (23 points) and Marc Gasol (21 points) and reserves Darrell Arthur (17) and Hamed Haddadi (10) getting most of their points inside. "Seventy-eight points in the paint is unheard of," Griz coach Lionel Hollins said.
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