There are nights where you are just simply better and more experienced than than your opponent, and the Memphis Grizzlies had one of those nights as they trounced the Phoenix Suns 117-96 to earn their third win of the year. Without Devin Booker, the Suns at times hardly looked like an NBA team, and the Grizzlies were able to take advantage.
After an anemic offensive start to the game, the Grizzlies were able to find their rythym through good ball movement and creating turnovers on the defensive end as they would lead 68-43 at the end of the first half. They shot 61% from the field and 53% from three while forcing 12 Suns turnovers.
Though the Suns did just enough to make the Grizzlies nervous in the second half, they Grizzlies were able to pull away behind the steady excellent play of Mike Conley and Mike Conley. Conley finished with 18 points and 7 assists on 6-13 shooting in a meager 28 minutes, while Gasol finished with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.
After an awful loss against the Sacramento KIngs in which they looked lost on both ends of the ball, the Grizzlies had one of their most complete games of the season, as they shot 56% from the field while holding the Suns to under 100 points for just the second time this season/
Here are a few takeaways from a good night at FedexForum.
Excellent Wing Play
For most of the season so far, the play of the Grizzlies wings has been pretty hit or miss. Garrett Temple has been excellent for the most part, but the contributions of MarShon Brooks, Wayne Selden, and Dillon Brooks had been pretty spotty at best.
However, all four players were, as the kids say nowadays, in their bag against the Suns.
Wayne Selden in particular had his best night of the season as he created a spark early that ignited an anemic Memphis offense. After coming into the game early to replace a struggling Kyle Anderson, he would make his first four shots while having an impact on the defensive end as well. He would end his night with 14 points and 2 steals.
Although he has struggled recently, MarShon Brooks looked much closer to the type of player his “bucket-getter” reputation would suggest. He carved up Mikal Bridges and Eli Okobo repeatedly in isolation on his way to 18 points on 7-9 shooting on the night.
It was also comforting to see Dillon Brooks play 27 minutes, the most he has played all season. He may have only scored 8 points, but he was impactful throughout the game and finished with the second-best +/- on the team at +20. It’s also worth noting that the Grizzlies have not lost a game this year in which he has played more than 15 minutes.
If the Grizzlies are able to find consistently solid play from everyone in their wing rotation, they will be difficult to beat on most nights.
Jaren Jackson Jr. is Still a Rookie
Let me say this first: Deandre Ayton is so good. He could very well be the best big man in the NBA one day. His combination of size, shooting, footwork, and passing at his age is almost unprecedented. He was mostly unstoppable as he finished with 24 points on 12-13 shooting along with 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
Jaren Jackson Jr., on the other hand, looked very much like the rookie that he is. He easily had his worst night as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, totaling just 6 points and 2 rebounds with 5 fouls in just 15 minutes of play.
Of course, there will be nights where Jackson will struggle like this, but he is entirely too talented to allow this to become a trend. Expect him to have a solid night against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
Kyle Anderson Hasn’t Found a Role
It seemed that the Grizzlies were trying to make a point to feature Kyle Anderson as much as possible early on in the game, and...it did not go well to say the least. In the first four minutes of the game, he missed three point-blank layups that would have made Tony Allen nod his head in approval. It never really got much better as he finished with just 2 points on 1-5 shooting in 21 minutes.
Anderson will certainly never be a scorer, but it’s very obvious that he hasn’t found his role with the team yet. Instead of allowing the game to come to him, he is forcing the issue, which is not a good quality of a player who thrives as a playmaker.
To be sure, he has plenty of time to turn his play around, but the early returns have not been promising.