The Memphis Grizzlies went into tonight’s game looking to avoid a 3-game losing streak. Their opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, were also looking to change their losing ways, as they lost in Houston last night. We got a treat on Wednesday, as Mike Conley and Damian Lillard — two of the most underappreciated point guards in the league — go to battle once more. In addition, we get the return of Grizzlies legend Wade Baldwin. JAKE LAYMAN STARTED TOO.
LEAGUE PASS ALERT.
The Grizzlies started out slow, as the Blazers jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead. The slow start included missed layups, bad defense, and a lazy offense. We also witnessed jams from Nik Stauskas and Jake Layman, disproving the theory that “white men can’t jump.” JB Bickerstaff also got a technical foul in the middle of the quarter for a no-call. Then, SOMEHOW, the lineup of Shelvin Mack, MarShon Brooks, Omri Casspi, JaMychal Green, and Joakim Noah couldn’t score buckets — imagine that. The Grizzlies closed the dreadful quarter shooting 30% from the field, falling into a 26-15 deficit.
Luckily, the Grizzlies decided to inject some offense going into the second quarter, rolling out a lineup of Conley, Brooks, Wayne Selden, JaMychal Green, and Jaren Jackson Jr. The Grizzlies closed the gap a bit, as Brooks got some buckets — cheap Tyreke! They went on a 10-2 run to narrow the deficit to 3 within the first 3 minutes of the quarter, which led to a Portland timeout. Jaren Jackson really energized the quarter, supplying the team with great hustle and defensive plays. Green and Nurkic about got into it, so THAT was cool. JaMychal, later, got his retribution and threw down a filthy outback dunk. Marc Gasol came alive to end the half, scoring his first 5 points in the final minute of the half. The Grizzlies ended the first half up 42-40.
There wasn’t really anything that stood out in the third quarter. It was really just a typical Grizz quarter: the offense was boring but effective, and the defense was absolutely stifling. MarShon Brooks hit a cool step-back jumper — cheap Tyreke! Joakim Noah nearly ended Zach Collins’ life, but he missed the dunk. The 3rd quarter ended with a goaltending from JaMychal Green, as the Grizzlies led the way 68-64.
Memphis opened the fourth quarter with a Shelvin Mack 3 — take that, Nathan Chester! Mike Conley helped maintain the lead for the Grizzlies, but they never quite pulled away, as the Blazers kept hanging around. Bickerstaff decided it was a good idea to have Shelvin Mack and Wayne Selden against Lillard and McCollum. Thank God, he put Conley in a minute later. Conley went absolutely “Captain Clutch” in the 4th quarter, connecting on an And-1 on one play then a 3-pointer on the next. The following play, Jaren Jackson Jr. hit a huge 3, because that’s what the second-best player on your team should do.
Those daggers really closed the game, as the Grizzlies came away with a 92-83 win over the Blazers.
- MarShon Brooks may need more playing time
It’s pretty simple: If MarShon Brooks is scoring, ride the hot hand. If not, don’t play him. Not a super hard concept. Last game, he was 4-4 from the field in only 8 minutes — all in the first half. In tonight’s game, he was finding ways to create off the dribble and for others, tallying 13 points and 3 assists in 18 minutes of action.
- The Grizzlies need to play the JaMychal - Jaren pairing more
The Grizzlies’ offense was completely stagnant in the first half. The Gasol/Jackson and Green/Noah pairings didn’t click at all. However, the Grizzlies started the second quarter with Green and Jackson at the 4 and 5, and the deficit trimmed. Both big men supplied great hustle and defense, making opportunities in the paint a living hell for the Blazers.
- Marc Gasol is still hurting
In an interview with the Daily Memphian’s Chris Herrington, Marc Gasol admitted that his ankle was a sore and is wanting to play though it. His averages over the past 5 games, prior tonight’s contest, were quite putrid. His defense doesn’t resemble his “Defensive Player of the Year” quality defense from earlier this season. He’s passive and slow offensively. Ultimately, Gasol needs to rest a bit, so he could completely get over this nagging ankle injury.
- CJ McCollum is a Grizz killer.
Ever since McCollum broke his face, he’s absolutely torched the Grizzlies. This generation’s Kevin Martin.
- Get Mike Conley to the All-Star Game ASAP.