While the game didn’t end in the result most thought it would, it was definitely enjoyable to watch. Memphis played a nearly flawless first half of basketball. They smothered Kawhi Leonard, moved the ball extremely well and did a good job of forcing turnovers. With a big lead at halftime, one might’ve thought they’d cruise to an easy win over a quality opponent. But give credit where credit is due to the Raptors. They hung tough, played tough defense, and hit enough threes to claw their way back into the game and come out on top.
Despite the loss, there were a number of solid performances from the Grizzlies. They put together a quality performance that probably would have been good enough to beat most teams in the league, but fell apart down the stretch.
Let’s get to it.
Marc Gasol: A-
Big Spain had another solid showing for Memphis, making it seem that his early season struggles are well and truly behind him. 27 points on 71% shooting, going along with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks was vintage Gasol and proved that when he plays well, the Grizzlies can be a tough team to beat. His effort on both ends of the floor was a big reason why the Grizzlies jumped out to the big lead that they did and how they stayed competitive as the Raptors fought their way back into the game.
Mike Conley: B
If you look at the box score, one might think that Conley doesn’t deserve this grade. His shooting numbers weren’t great, but that was a result of him being forced to take shot after shot at the end of the fourth quarter in a desperate attempt to get Memphis back into the game. This tells us two things. It tells us that Conley is and will continue to be Memphis’ go-to guy in clutch situations, and the other thing it tells us is that he needs some more help. He played well but is being counted on to single-handedly bail Memphis. He needs help. Perhaps a certain Wizards player whose last name rhymes with Teal. (Just kidding.)
Kyle Anderson: B+
Anderson played the all-encompassing type of game that Memphis was looking to get when they signed him this past offseason. He was able to score the ball enough to keep him relevant, he was a factor in terms of rebounding, and although he only registered one assist, he moved the ball around well. But what he really excelled at tonight was his defense. He spent the night smothering Kawhi Leonard and he did a good job at that. I’m sure that playing on the same team as Leonard for a number of years gave Anderson some insider knowledge, but Memphis is paying him to lock down opposing wings and he did a good job at that in this game.
Jaren Jackson Jr. : D
Memphis has fallen in love with Jackson, and for good reason. He has flashed the talent that made him the number 4 pick, but he at just 19 years old, he is still searching for a consistency in his game that will come with time and experience. We can enjoy the games he had against the Knicks, (16 points, 6 rebounds, 7 blocks) but we must also stomach the games like he had tonight (4 points, 2 rebounds, 5 fouls). Because Jaren got into foul trouble early on, he was unable to get into a rhythm and establish his presence in the game. As he continues with growing pains, we should see less of this performance and more of his impressive games like against the Knicks.
Despite overall playing well, the Grizzlies weren’t able to pull out a win this time. Hopefully they can get back on track in their upcoming game against the Nets.