Never take the Memphis Grizzlies for granted.
Even as an awful season comes to a close, it’s important to remember just how thankful we should be to have an NBA team in Memphis. The tough times should only give us a greater appreciation for the good times. And when you see a group of young players compete as hard as the Grizzlies (or Hustle, if you prefer) did against a very good Timberwolves team, it makes the experience worthwhile.
The Memphis Grizzlies fell short 113-94 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game that was more competitive than the score would suggest.
I think it was only fair. After two failed attempts, it was about time the Grizzlies let the Wolves win one this year against them.
The beginning of the 1st quarter was ugly to say the least as both teams struggled to find a rythym. The Wolves initially looked like the more energetic team as they grabbed 4 offensive rebounds in the first three minutes of the game. They led 10-8 at the 6:38 mark.
However, the Grizzlies flipped a switch as a three-point play from Mario Chalmers sparked a 10-0 run to give them a lead at 24-14. Opportunistic defense and aggressive offense allowed them to lead 26-20 at the end of the quarter. The Wolves were held to 31% shooting and were 1-7 from three. Ben McLemore led all scorers with 6 points.
It seemed that the possibility of missing the playoffs really began to hit home for the Wolves, because they increased their intensity in the second quarter. McLemore would hit back-to-back jumpers (because of course he did) to to give the Grizzlies their largest lead of the night at 33-23. However, Jimmy Butler’s return sparked the Wolves’ defensive intensity as they would go on a 15-0 run to take a 43-37 lead.
Questionable officiating on both ends allowed the Grizzlies to get into the bonus early and stay in the game, as they would trail 56-53 at the break. McLemore led the team at the half with 12 points. Dillon Brooks missed his first five shots, but would start to find a rhthym as he finished with 8 points.
Unfortunately, the second half was when the Wolves really began to take control of the game. The Grizzlies started off the half with a lob from Ivan Rabb that somehow went into the basket. However, the Wolves would follow that up with an equally unlikely play, as Jeff Teague converted a four-point play. The friendly whistle that followed the Grizzlies in the first half didn’t extend to the second as they were out of fouls to give at the 8:51 mark.
A three from Gorgui Dieng at the 5:27 mark would give the Wolves a 12-point lead at 75-63. Steady offense including a thunderous dunk by MarShon Brooks would allow the Grizzlies to only trail 83-75 at the end of the frame.
The Grizzlies remained competitive, but the outcome was never in doubt in the fourth quarter. Karl-Anthony Towns would start the frame with a finger-roll, and the Wolves never really looked back. The Grizzlies would cut the lead to 11 off a putback dunk by Kobi Simmons, but they could never get any closer than that. A monster dunk from Towns with two minutes remaining would effectively end the game.
No one expected the Grizzlies to be able to stop Towns, especially with Marc Gasol on the “injury report”. And they definitely did not, as he finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds. However, they didn’t give themselves a chance in the second half by allowing Jeff Teague to do just about whatever he wanted. Teague had 24 points on 9-19 shooting and had 8 assists. The Grizzlies couldn’t keep him out of the paint.
Ben McLemore continued his “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” act as he led the Grizzlies with 18 points. MarShon Brooks finally came back down to earth as he finished with 14 points on 4-16 shooting. Even on a rough 5-15 shooting night, Dillon Brooks still contributed with 15 points and 4 rebounds.
The Memphis Grizzlies will play their final game of the season on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7:00 on Wednesday.