The Memphis Grizzlies, even in defeat, continue to show a level of grit that will hopefully someday pay off. Today was not that day, as the Chicago Bulls stopped a comeback attempt from Memphis short on their way to a 119-110 victory.
The Grizzlies, with Marc Gasol on the bench, staged a pretty impressive run in the fourth quarter to try to steal this one. Memphis was down by 15 heading in to the final frame, but the bears of Beale Street cut that lead down to one behind hot shooting and improved defensive switching scheme execution. It could not last, though, as the Bulls pulled away late.
Key takeaways from this loss, the 15th in a row for Memphis.
- Dillon Brooks had his best game of the season, and therefore his young career, in this contest. 10-18 from the floor overall, 5-9 from three, as he scored 29 points (20 in the 4th quarter) and led the final charge for Memphis. Brooks is far from a complete player, and he may well already be a finished NBA product. But you know what else he is already? A decent-to-good NBA player. As he learns angles and foot/hand placement he will improve defensively, and his scoring ability should stay relatively strong. Tonight only confirms what many already knew - Dillon is the steal of the 2017 NBA Draft.
- The only Grizzlies player who played more than 30 minutes in this game was Ben McLemore at 38. Excellent tanking, Grizzlies. Don’t be distracted by his 17 point, efficient shooting night. Poor defense on the perimeter and six (!!!) turnovers helped cement this Memphis loss, and ultimately Ben’s place as the Tank Commander.
- These young Grizzlies don’t know any better. They’re undermanned, even against the also-awful Chicago Bulls, and instead of taking the whooping and moving on they fought to make it a game. Here is where the lessons and work being done by Marc and JaMychal Green as leaders on the roster matters so much. Losing like this can certainly create a culture that leads to perpetual failure. But the way Memphis is competing allows for a realistic hope to exist that better days are ahead. Maybe not this season, but with health, a high draft pick being added, and further maturing of key young players like Brooks, Deyonta Davis, and others, 2018-2019 could be not so bad.
The Grizzlies take their now 15-game skid back home to Memphis Friday as they take on the Utah Jazz.