The Memphis Grizzlies had their first division foe battle of the season, as they took on James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Russell Westbrook sat out for load management reasons, so we didn’t get to see how Ja Morant stacked up against his most popular player comparison. Unfortunately for Memphis, Jaren Jackson Jr. was out with knee soreness, opening up the opportunity for Brandon Clarke to get his first NBA start.
The first quarter might have been a 2-on-1 game with Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas against James Harden. The Grizzlies duo combined for 15 of the Grizzlies’ 28 first-quarter points. Meanwhile, the Rockets star blasted 3 of his 6 triples, coasting to an easy 12-point quarter.
The biggest highlight of the quarter came midway through the term, as Ja Morant threw a monstrous putback jam all over PJ Tucker:
The Rockets led 33-28 after the 1st quarter.
The Grizzlies opened the second quarter with some alley oop connections with Ja Morant and Bruno Caboclo, then another one with Ja and Brandon Clarke. No one really took a strong hold of the game in the quarter, as the contest was all back and forth. Dillon Brooks and Tyus Jones had some strong takes to the basket, which included the former initiating a quick 4-point sequence with a dunk, inbound steal, and a layup.
The Rockets concluded the half up 62-60, as James Harden single-handedly kept them in the game, scoring 25 points in the half.
I honestly can’t describe the third quarter. Both sides were extremely sloppy, as they were numerous messy transition plays and hard fouls that just made the game unbearable to watch. There were two too many Kyle Anderson three-point attempts, and there were a few too many Ben McLemore three-point makes.
I had seen better play in high school games than I saw in that third quarter.
The fourth quarter opened with nice buckets from Ja Morant and Bruno Caboclo. The Brazilian big man had a smooth, aggressive drive against Clint Capela, leading to a thunderous slam. Jonas Valanciunas got a sneaky elbow to the face, then picked up a frustration foul and technical foul as a result.
We had a little bit of an intense moment, when Jae Crowder and James Harden got into it, after the Bearded One got him in the man region. I honestly really wanted to see some hands thrown, but you can’t get everything you want. That little episode led to Jae Crowder getting ejected.
The Grizzlies were unable to fend off the Rockets’ 3-point attack, as they lacked real firepower aside from Ja Morant for the majority of the game. The final score was 107-100.
3 takes, 3 sentences
- Ja Morant is as good as advertised.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. was missed dearly.
- I’m so ready for De’Anthony Melton and Josh Jackson to get minutes.
- Ja Morant - 23 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
- Dillon Brooks - 17 points, 9 rebounds
- Bruno Caboclo 11 points, 5 rebounds
- Jonas Valanciunas - 10 points, 10 rebounds
- Tyus Jones - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists