It may not have been Thanksgiving quite yet, but the Grizzlies big men were feasting against the Los Angeles Clippers stout defense last night. Jonas Valanciunas bullied his way to a double-double, while Jaren Jackson Jr. continued his hot shooting from the perimeter. Through most of the game, the Grizzlies looked the part of a young, competitive team. They stayed close, but trailed a majority of the game. That is, until the 4th quarter.
After a quiet first 3 quarters, Ja Morant woke up and ignited a spark that got the Grizzlies offense rolling, taking a double digit lead early in the quarter. Nothing is ever easy though, as Paul George and Lou Williams sparked a Clippers comeback of their own. Both teams traded baskets throughout the final minutes of the game with the Clippers scoring the game winning basket with 2.8 seconds left on a Montrezl Harrell put back. The Grizzlies had a chance to go for the tie or win, but Jaren Jackson Jr.’s shot attempt in the corner was blocked out of bounds with .2 seconds left, forcing the Grizzlies to throw up a lob that was tipped away.
The loss stings, but it sure was fun watching this young Grizzlies team compete against one of the NBA’s top title contenders, albeit without Kawhi Leonard. Ja Morant was magical once again in the fourth quarter, making multiple highlight plays en route to a 20 point, 11 assist effort. Jonas Valanciunas had his best game of the season scoring 30 points and 16 rebounds, looking more like the player the Grizzlies had for the tail end of last season.
Jae Crowder came up big for the Grizzlies, hitting some big 3-pointers in the 4th quarter as he scored 20 points lifting the Grizzlies when they needed him. Jaren Jackson Jr. cooled after a hot start, but still finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds. The Grizzlies bench was mostly underwhelming, with Brandon Clarke being the only bench contributor scoring in double-digits with 10 points. The Dillon Brooks, Marko Guduric and Grayson Allen revolving door at shooting guard performed poorly last night, shooting 4-17 from the field with Dillon Brooks ultimately fouling out of the contest.
After Paul George opened the game scoring the Clippers first 8 points, the Grizzlies did a good job of containing him throughout most of the game but he hit some big time shots late in the game while Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell carried the Clippers all game, with both scoring 24 points a piece. Patrick Beverley couldn’t quite pull his usual stunts getting under the opponents skin, but the Clippers floor general had a solid game dishing out 11 assists and hitting a big time 3 late in the game.
The good news is that the Grizzlies had close games with a couple of title contenders over the past 7 days, but they need to do a better job of executing down the stretch. That, of course, is something that will come with time as Ja, Jaren and Coach Jenkins become more familiar with one another and build their chemistry. Overall it was a nice, competitive effort from the young Grizzlies.