Last night was textbook Grizzlies basketball in their win against the Portland Trail Blazers. It was a defense first effort against one of the most potent offenses in the league. Memphis defeated a team who averages 112 points per game and slowed them down to only 83 points. The Grizzlies defeated the Trail Blazers 92-83.
From start to finish, the Grizzlies seemed to focus on a game plan of playing solid interior defense and do not let anyone else beat you outside of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. That is exactly what the box score showed at the end of the game tonight. CJ McCollum scored his 40 points and Lillard added his 14, but the other starters only combined for 14 points with no one on the Portland bench scoring in double digits. Defense was the name of the game.
It was an important win for the Grizzlies coming back home having gone through a tough part of the schedule over the past 10 games. The critics were starting to come out and the questions were becoming louder and louder. Luckily, the Grizzlies responded with a dominant win to regain control of the narrative.
Now, to team grades.
Mike Conley- A
Mike Conley stepped up once again for the Grizzlies when they needed that last fourth quarter nudge to get over the finish line. He scored 8 points in the last four minutes of the game and had 10 total fourth quarter points. Conley had two back-to-back possessions when they were only up a few which resulted in two three-point plays that the Grizzlies needed to regain control of the game. Overall, he ended his night with 23 points with 6 rebounds and 6 assists in 32 minutes of play.
Garrett Temple- C+
Another slow night for Garrett Temple. He only scored 4 points on 1-6 shooting from the field in 30 minutes. It is tough when Temple continuously misses out flashy box scores each night. Ultimately, the team desperately needs another scorer to help carry some of the burden of Marc and Mike on offense. Even as Temple may not be that guy with any consistency, his contributions in the defensive schemes are crucial to their success. It may not be seen in the end of the game stats, but Temple fits well on this defense first team.
Kyle Anderson- B-
Speaking of defense, Kyle Anderson also had himself a quiet night on offense yet again. He ended the night with only 4 points, but he had 12 rebounds to pair with it which proved important against one of the best rebounding teams in the league. The Trail Blazers came in ranked 3rd in rebounds per game, and the Grizzlies contained them on the boards outrebounding them 51-44. It came from Anderson being the rebounding wing that most teams have which can offset a struggling night from their big men, especially with the Grizzlies having Marc hang around the arc.
Jaren Jackson Jr.- B+
Jaren Jackson closed out a game!! After hearing the criticism across the board after the end of the game in Denver, Bickerstaff looked to make a change to stick with JJJ over JaMychal Green in the closing stretch. While Conley increased their lead to near double digits, there was the Jaren Jackson three-pointer to put the nail in the coffin for this Grizzlies win. His 14 points and 6 rebound night was closed by that confident three he took with the game still in Portland’s reach. That end game confidence is something that I’d love see grow over the rest of this season.
Marc Gasol- B
Marc Gasol may need to rest sometime soon. It isn’t a jab at his effort or intensity on the court. It would only be the smart move for him playing a full season plus hopefully in the playoffs. He has already come out and commented about his ankle, and we all can tell it is still bothering him now. In this one, he had only 9 points and 7 boards. We all know, including himself, that is not a good offense game for him, however, last night he affected the game on the defensive end first.
Gasol swatted away 6 blocks in this game and made all players second guess getting anywhere near the rim. It was a block party between his 6 and Jaren’s 2 blocks as well.
The Bench- B
Two double digit performances off the bench from JaMychal Green and MarShon Brooks scoring 12 and 13, respectively. Their contributions were much needed in this game. Brooks was playing his hot hand having a +10 rating in the game also. JaMychal played 23 minutes and put in 6 rebounds on top of the 12 points. He was very efficient making all five of his shots including one from behind the arc.
It was an offensive off night for most everyone else on the bench, however, a big shoutout to the bench unit that closed the first quarter. Portland was clicking on all cylinders in the first quarter until that lineup slowed them down and got the Grizzlies back into the game. It could have been a different result if Portland kept rolling.
After this great win, the Grizzlies look to keep things going on the right track staying at home against the Miami Heat. It will be Dwayne Wade’s last trip to Memphis. He is guaranteed to put on a show, so the Grizzlies will have to come up with a plan to continue the Forum success. Grizzlies vs. Heat is on Friday, December 14th at 7:00 CST.