Rejoice, Memphis Grizzlies fans. For the first time since December 26th, the Grizzlies won a basketball game.
Their 96-86 victory over the San Antonio Spurs was not without its flaws. The Grizzlies offense was still pretty bad - 41.1% overall from the floor, an abysmal 24.2% from beyond the arc - and two players that led the charge in this win, Shelvin Mack and JaMychal Green, could theoretically take minutes away from younger players. This win could potentially be seen as “evidence” for Grizzlies Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff that they’re needed for Memphis to win. Jaren Jackson Jr. (albeit with four fouls so some foul trouble) had only 18 minutes of playing time, and Jevon Carter played zero minutes in a somewhat surprising Did Not Play - Coaches Decision.
Those are certainly things to keep an eye on. But let’s let go of the critical eye on those particular issues for one report card. Memphis got a much needed win against a good opponent in San Antonio, and now they get a desperately needed extra day to rest and get ready for the next ten games, games that will almost certainly decide their season.
No pressure! On to the grades.
Marc Gasol - 26 points on 16 shots, 3-5 on three point shots, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, +1.
Oh, hi Marc.
Whether it was because he was matched up with his brother Pau, or because his parents were in town, or because he was “called out” by Tony Allen on Tuesday, or because yours truly wrote about him yesterday (I think it was the last option), Big Spain decided to go full Wendigo on the Spurs. It is a common refrain - aggressive Marc is the best Marc. He will never be this player consistently, but we must look at Gasol’s night appropriately and acknowledge what we already know - when Memphis has this level of play from Marc Gasol, they can compete with anyone.
Mike Conley - 15 points on 19 shots, 0-5 from three, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, -2.
It wasn’t the best night for Mike. He struggled finding his rhythm and just seemed a bit off in terms of his footing in the offense. A major reason for the poor performance for the team on this end is Conley, and it is another reminder of why this win was nice, but this style of victory is not something Memphis can sustain. If the Grizzlies are going to climb back in to the playoff picture, they need both Gasol AND Conley. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge combining to shoot 8-27 doesn’t happen all that often- if those guys make a few more buckets, that game is a lot different.
Mike picked a good night to be off, though, so bonus points for that.
- Shelvin Mack gets a B+ for being his best self. 10 points, 7 assists, 16 minutes of play to Mike Conley’s 32? Sign me up for more of this. Mack as a backup point guard is a good asset to have. Where Shelvin gets in trouble (largely not his fault, he doesn’t make the rotation) is when he is overextended as a sixth man playing long stretches next to Mike Conley. They should be together on a limited basis - this game was evidence of that for Shelvin.
- Kyle Anderson gets a C+ because he is finally being used right. 9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, a steal...not the sexiest stat line. But Anderson impacts the game on both ends when used properly, and hot damn if J.B. Bickerstaff hasn’t started doing this offensively. More and more we see Kyle at point forward, initiating offense alongside Mike Conley instead of Shelvin Mack. This will only help the offense more moving forward - Kyle usually makes good decisions with the ball in his hands.
- JaMychal Green gets a B+ for a solid double double. 12 points, 11 rebounds, and timely made shots that helped keep the Spurs several possessions from a lead whenever they tried to make a run. Who knows if JaMychal will still be on this team six months from now, or even six weeks post-trade deadline. While he is here, it is nice to see him being an insurance policy for when Jaren has foul issues or simply doesn’t have “it”. Jackson Jr. should have had more minutes in this game, but with Gasol and Green playing so well, it is hard to be too hard on Bickerstaff...especially considering this team continues to try to be a playoff contender and desperately needed a win. They rode the hot hand Wednesday night.
The Memphis Grizzlies will be back in action on the road on Sunday afternoon for an early tip with the Miami Heat. The game starts at 4:00 PM CT.