The Grizzlies hosted the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night, a night headlined by the throwback Vancouver Grizzlies jerseys. It was a hard fought battle between the league’s best team in the Lakers and one of the league’s rebuilding rosters in Memphis. In the last match up against between these two, Anthony Davis dropped a historic 40 points and 20 rebounds in a 30 point blowout of Memphis. This game would trend in the opposite direction, with the Grizzlies leading most of the way yet ultimately falling to the Lakers 109-108.
Every job has its performance reviews, and here at GBB, we like to grade aspects of each game. Below are my grades for Saturday night’s contest.
First Half 3-Point Shooting, A-
The Grizzlies were 11-17 from 3-point land in the first half. Those may not seem like crazy numbers, but if you’ve followed this team through any point of the season, you know that this team is not a good three point shooting team by any measure. The Grizzlies rank 24th in the league in 3-point percentage at 34.1%. Memphis started the game 8-8 from long range, grabbing a double digit lead multiple times in the first half. The consistency from three created an easy flow for the entire offense, something the Grizzlies need desperately in order to be successful.
I am also putting emphasis on first half 3-point shooting, as the second half was horrendous, or just normal for the Grizzlies. Memphis was 3-13 in the second half, a big reason why the scoring was down across the board. Overall the percentage for the game was great (14-30, 49%), yet in the flow of the game, the misses from three in the second half were deflating.
Grizzly Stars of the Now and Later, A-
We finally got to see a complete game from Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. on the same night. Saturday night’s game was the first game all season they both went for 20+ points in the same game. Both were magical in different ways. JJJ started the game 3-4 from the three point line, forcing Anthony Davis out of the paint. He would stay out of foul trouble, yet still make his presence known on the defensive end. JJJ would finish with 20 points on 8-16 from the field and 7 rebounds.
Ja Morant was special, which sounds redundant, but is true nonetheless. Every night he does something special and all we can do is sit back and enjoy. He isn’t scared of the moment, he takes on the challenge of leading this team of NBA misfits, and this fan base loves him to the point of obsession. His fourth quarter scoring quite literally keeps the Grizzlies in the game. We can only pray that his magic never runs out. Morant would finish the game with 26 points on 10-16 and 6 assists.
The only reason my grade isn’t an A+ is because they lost, that’s kind of the whole point of playing.
Entertainment Value, A+
As you have probably seen, the Grizzlies finally unveiled their throwback Vancouver Grizzlies jerseys in live action. Unbiased opinion: they are the best throwback jersey in history. Along with the jerseys, there is a throwback court that will be used when the team plays in the unis. The matching merchandise on sale, the atmosphere surrounding the court, and Lakers being in town created a scene that we haven’t seen this season.
And of course, the game was entertaining alone. The Grizzlies led through two quarters and trailed just one to start the third quarter. The Lakers were riding a six game winning streak, only dropping two losses on the season. Memphis is clearly rebuilding, yet playing the most entertaining brand of basketball this team has produced in years. With the annoyingly amazing play from two legends in Lebron James and Anthony Davis paired with the future flashing before our eyes in Morant and Jackson Jr., this game was high value in so many ways.
Dillon Brooks decision Making, C+
Say what you want about Dillon Brooks, but its simply undeniable that he wants to shoot the ball. He wants to be the go-to scoring option for this team so badly. You can tell when the ball touches his hand that the absolute last option is to pass. And for some players in this league, like say… Kyrie Irving or James Harden, that makes sense. For our dearest Dillon, he often can’t get out of his own way. He was 4-10 for 12 points Saturday night, which admittedly could be worse. But the eye test will tell you, he has to make better decisions for this team to be successful.
His misses were very untimely, he settled for the three too often, and he tends to put his head down full speed and rack up offensive fouls. On the defensive end he can wreak havoc, locking down other teams’ scoring options. Or he can get in serious foul trouble sending players to free throw line for easy points. He ended the game against the Lakers with 5 fouls, sticking true to form as he is 9th in the league in fouls per game (3.9).
I’ve said it already, but this game was so fun to watch. Yes, the Grizzlies blew multiple double digit leads, but a young team is prone to do that, especially against a Lebron-led Lakers team. They still had a chance to win even in the closing seconds, and will improve as the season progresses. After two unwatchable seasons, this season is a refresher, no matter how many games they win. There’s more to come from this young Grizzlies team, and I’m here for it.