This game ended a little more dramatically than what was anticipated at halftime. The Grizzlies relinquished a 19 point lead after two quarters late in the fourth but battled through the adversity to pull out a close one 96-91 against the Dallas Mavericks.
The game looked to be a reverse of Wednesday night’s game early on as the Grizzlies took an early lead and dominated through two quarters. That narrative changed as Dallas took the lead on a foolish 3 point foul by Tyreke Evans. However, the Captain, Mike Conley, led the team down the stretch with another clutch three to take the lead. Overall, the team played well getting back in the groove with just that chunk of minutes of lackadaisical defense.
Now, to team grades.
Mike Conley- A-
Conley was not letting the team lose again to this subpar Mavericks team. With a shaky start to the game shooting, he showed what he was all about Thursday night fighting for 22 points with 4 assists. Conley took an approach relying on driving to the basket shooting 10-12 from the free throw line. Defensively, he contained Dennis Smith Jr. from having another explosive night on offense. Conley’s clutch three with just over three minutes left was a massive shot that took the lead back after the Grizzlies were struggling to find any offense. This is his third 20 point game of the season and is looking to build on this start going forward.
Andrew Harrison- D
The Grizzlies are going to have to find some way to reduce Harrison’s minutes even more from his 20 he played tonight. It is a struggle because Wayne Selden Jr. and Ben McLemore are hurt, but Harrison being on the floor kills the Grizzlies in so many different ways. He is a Tony Allen type without the elite defense. So many times during this game he lost the man he was guarding on back screens or cuts. Offensively, the Mavericks sagged off Harrison enough to clog the middle more than they ever should be able to get away with. They were not fazed by his lack of offense, scoring 4 points on 1-6 shooting. Hopefully, Harrison can pick up his defense or his role will diminish severely.
James Ennis III- C+
After his first three games, Ennis was 5th among players playing 15 minutes or more a game in true shooting percentage at 80.2%. He was efficiently scoring in those games, but has hit a wall over the past two since. Thursday, he only scored 2 points on 3 shots and missing the only two 3’s he took. Ennis did contribute with five rebounds and two of those on the offensive glass, one came around the 2:30 mark which turned into a Conley layup. Ennis did not have a statistically impressive game, but he has shown at times he deserves to be in the starting lineup with his high intensity. Maybe it is just the upside seen next to Andrew Harrison.
Jarell Martin- B
Jarell Martin was a delightful surprise Thursday. He started the game off hot hitting his first two 3’s he took. He paired early shooting with finally playing solid defense. This extended throughout the game with a rundown block and not being lost switching through screens. Even though he did cool off in the second half, he still finished his night with 9 points only connecting on those two early 3’s but went to the line four times also. Martin in the starting lineup is still a rare sight, and as many people do not agree with it (me included), Thursday he proved his shooting will spread the floor more than Brandan Wright ever could.
Marc Gasol- A+
Gasol is on another level so far this year, and it is so much fun to watch. He had yet another double-double Thursday pairing 25 points with 13 rebounds. Gasol dominated the game early and was a major reason the Grizzlies went out to such an early lead. The mindset this year from him is something to behold. He has been dominating the paint while also stretching his game out shooting at a higher rate from behind the arc. Game after game, Gasol brings himself to the same level playing at an MVP caliber mark.
The Bench- B+
The Bench played soooo much better than Wednesday night’s game in Dallas. They thrived off the Forum crowd which was rocking again. Dillon Brooks found his offense after an off night the game before. His motor was running on high all game defensively while still contributing 7 points in 25 minutes on the court.
However, the star of Thursday’s bench was Tyreke Evans. He played 22 minutes and scored 19 points on 7-12 shooting. The dude is one of the funniest players to watch in the league. Evans never thinks about passing the ball once it touches his hands. He is a score-first kind of player and that is not a bad thing at all. His mentality is “I am the best on the floor, and I’ll score on anyone.” It is remarkable and so fun to watch his pull up 3’s after hitting two other 3’s in two straight possessions before. This is the player he has always been, and Thursday he showed to be Peak Reke.
The overall takeaway from this game is that the team has got to keep their composure for all 48 minutes. They got in a rut for a chunk of the third and fourth quarters which let this pesky Mavericks team back in it. All in all, the Grizzlies looked like themselves tonight, but they will have to keep the mental composure to avoid sweating these out down the stretch.