The Grizzlies held the Rockets under 100 points for the first time this season, outscoring them 28-14 in the 4th quarter. The Grizzlies finished the game on a 20-2 run over the last 6:09. The defense stepped up to the plate at the end, and it ultimately lead to the Grizzlies victory.
Here’s how the squad graded out.
Marc Gasol (26 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 38 minutes) - A
Marc Gasol’s dominant play from Saturday night carried over to last night. His 26 points were a team high and his aggressiveness was a key factor in the Grizzlies win. Gasol made all 10 of his free throw attempts and shot 8-15 from the field. The turnovers are a bit of a concern (4 tonight, 7 Saturday) but the Grizz will take the turnovers if Marc keeps staying aggressive. Gasol’s defense is back to his Defensive Player of the Year form and he wrapped up the night with this clutch block to help seal the victory.
James Ennis III (14 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 37 minutes) - A
The rise of James Ennis has been amazing to watch over the last couple of years. Ennis went from barely being in the NBA to dominating training camp and winning a spot in the Grizzlies starting lineup. Ennis has benefited greatly from the up-tempo style of play Coach Fizdale has pushed this season. Ennis excels in the open court, but it’s his defense that was huge for the Grizzlies tonight. He was a key factor in shutting down Harden and Gordon down the stretch. His stats aren’t always sexy, but James Ennis has been huge for the Grizzlies this year.
Mike Conley (17 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 28 minutes) - B+
Similar to Saturday, Conley did not have a good first 3 quarters, but stepped up in the 4th when it mattered most. Conley scored 12 of his 17 points during the Grizzlies 20-2 run in the final 6:09. Gasol carried the team earlier, and Conley took over in the 4th with his scoring and facilitating. It wasn’t the most efficient night from the field (3-10) but Conley was 9-9 from the free throw line. Captain Clutch played his best when it mattered the most and that’s why he gets such a high grade even with the early struggles.
Jarell Martin (11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 21 minutes) - B
Jarell Martin has been a man on a mission ever since Ron Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s report that he was cut going into training camp. He’s not a starting caliber player in the NBA, yet, but he’s played well for the Grizzlies in JaMychal Green’s absence. He’s athletic enough to hang with most opposing 4’s on the defensive end, and doesn’t force anything on the offensive end. It’s unlikely Jarell ever takes a game over, but if he continues to play under control the Grizzlies can continue to succeed while JaM recovers. Also, Jarell alley-oops might have to become a nightly thing.
Andrew Harrison (4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 20 minutes) - D
Harrison has not played great to start the season. He does a pretty good job of being in the right place at the right time and making the right passes. Unfortunately, he just hasn’t been able to shoot consistently enough to become more of a factor for the Grizzlies. Defenses aren’t remotely concerned when Harrison shoots the ball, similar to the way defenses used to treat Tony Allen. Harrison will continue to start in Selden and McLemore’s absence but it’s hard to see him getting many minutes once they get healthy. Harrison is a hard-working player, but at the end of the day the Grizzlies need more production out of their starting 2 guard.
The Bench - B
The bench didn’t dominate last night like they have the previous two games, only outscoring the Rockets bench 26-20. That sentence shows how improved the Grizzlies bench unit is this year. Last year, the Grizz were lucky if the bench didn’t completely blow a lead and now the bench has the ability to maintain as well as build leads for the Grizz. Mario Chalmers lead the bench with 11 points, 4 assists and lead the Grizzlies with a +/- of +19. It was also his scuffle with James Harden that helped spark the Grizzlies comeback.
Watch James Harden push Rio then jump behind the ref....— Devin Walker (@Devin_Walker5) October 24, 2017
Come on bro pic.twitter.com/hKKZVmezME
Chandler Parsons continues to play good-to-great defense and made another 3. Tyreke Evans, who was questionable to play with a left knee injury, didn’t play as well as he has the first two games, but he did hit a clutch 3 down the stretch. Dillon Brooks cooled off offensively with only 3 points, but he’s TA sneaky at avoiding screens and isn’t afraid of any challenge on the defense end. Brandan Wright is really the only bench player who struggled, scoring his only points on a fast break dunk.
Coach Fizdale & Staff - B+
Coach Fizdale did a great job keeping the Grizzlies close throughout the entirety of the game, and then stepping it up the final minutes to steal the victory from Houston. He didn’t let the game get away from the Grizz and slowed down the pace once he realized the team was struggling to keep up with the Rockets. I also liked how he played Chalmers extended minutes since Conley struggled early. Conley only playing 28 minutes won’t jump out at you, but it’s nights like last night that will keep Conley fresh throughout the season. The Grizzlies still need to show that they can consistently convert this many free-throws, but the aggressive style of play Fizdale has implemented is causing the team to get to the line more often.
This was a huge win for the Grizzlies against a Rockets team that is still very good sans Chris Paul. With CP3 potentially out up to a month, the Grizzlies need to take advantage of playing the Rockets when they aren’t at full strength. The Grizzlies will play the Rockets again on Saturday in Memphis so that should be at least another game the Grizz get against Houston without CP3.
The Grizzlies have been one of the most impressive teams to start the season, and have already proven they are going to be a force in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies will, likely, regress at some point this season but every win in the stacked West counts and it will be important for the Grizzlies to pile them on early. It’s still early in the season but this Grizzlies team is good, and a ton of fun.