It’s my favorite night of the year: Wrestling Night. I could use as many wrestling puns as I want. The gray and gold uniforms are out. There are an abundance of wrestling promos in between timeouts and at halftime. As the kids my age say, it’s lit.
The game kicked off with Jaren Jackson fouling James Harden on a three-point attempt, because you can’t even touch him. This happened twice within 3 minutes of the game starting. Poor, Jaren, he’s only 19. Marc Gasol started the game engaged, having his way with Clint Capela, connecting on a triple, and getting after it on the glass. Don’t we love an engaged Marc Gasol? Former Phoenix Suns Wayne Selden and MarShon Brooks entered the game midway through the first quarter, receiving a nice ovation from the crowd. Offense was simply optional in the first quarter, as the score was 36-29 Houston at the end of the quarter.
Jevon Carter made his NBA debut midway through the 2nd quarter — I was shocked too. He also got his first career steal on none other than Chris Paul, so I’m going to start a GoFundMe to get proceeds for a Jevon Carter statue in front of FedExForum. The Grizzlies offense went stagnant in the second quarter, only totaling 11 points. Meanwhile, their defense wasn’t much better, as the Rockets constantly attacked in the pick-and-roll. Joakim Noah finished the half with a buzzer-beater in the paint. The Rockets led 61-40 to end the half.
The Memphis Grizzlies started the 3rd quarter on a 7-0 run, cutting the deficit to 14. Jaren Jackson had a nice sequence where he blocked Capela than drilled a trailing 3. That’s the future right now. The Rockets didn’t score until midway into the third quarter, which played a huge role in cutting the deficit. Then, the Rockets starting making a boat load of 3’s, because that’s their brand.
The start of the fourth quarter was kind of back-and-forth, in the sense that the lead never really moved — as the Rockets still led by about 12-16 points. Jevon Carter had a nice steal then fastbreak layup against James Harden, so he’s now one of my favorite players. Jaren Jackson blocked James Harden, which ignited a fastbreak jam by Jevon Carter.
I almost shed legitimate tears in FedExForum. Carter had another awesome defensive sequence where he stripped Chris Paul in the paint, which led to a Temple run and jam. The Grizzlies actually closed the game with Conley, Carter, Temple, Jackson and Gasol — I’m just as shocked as you are. Jaren Jackson fouled Harden on another 3-point attempt, and I personally wanted to go Bob Knight and throw a chair out on the court. The Grizzlies ultimately couldn’t pull this one out, as they lost 105-97.
Despite the loss, the atmosphere tonight felt like a playoff game in the Grindhouse, and that’s largely because of Jevon Carter. Between him and Jaren Jackson, the future is going to be fun.
- Mike Conley: 22 points, 6 assists
- Marc Gasol: 17 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
- JaMychal Green: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
- Jevon Carter: 11 points, 2 steals
- Jaren Jackson: 9 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks
- The Grizzlies miss Kyle Anderson and Dillon Brooks
The Grizzlies’ wing depth has been exposed over the course of Brooks’ absence. With Anderson out, you could really see how much help they need on the wings. Garrett Temple, MarShon Brooks, Wayne Selden, and Omri Casspi collectively together won’t cut it. Hopefully, Anderson’s injury won’t put him on the shelf long, as he’s their best perimeter defender by a landslide.
Maybe Dillon Brooks comes back and returns to his rookie year form. The Grizzlies need something on the wing — a Kelly Oubre Jr. would be nice.
- The Grizzlies have a lot of “decent” talent but not enough “good” talent
For the Memphis Grizzlies, it’s Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Jaren Jackson. That’s pretty much it. JaMychal Green, Kyle Anderson, and a healthy Dillon Brooks are nice role players too. Everyone else may not see consistent rotation minutes on most playoff teams. The past 2 games highlighted this weakness for Memphis, and hopefully they address it before the trade deadline.
- Play Jevon Carter more minutes
Jevon Carter made his NBA debut, and there’s honestly no reason the Grizzlies shouldn’t keep playing with him. For a rookie, he made very little mistakes. He played hard-nosed, smart defense on two of the most elite offensive talents in the league. He’s also a young player you could develop for the Jaren Jackson era. That’s important. Keep playing Carter, it only helps.