The Memphis Grizzlies hosted the Houston Rockets Monday night inside FedExForum. The Grizz would take on Houston without Jaren Jackson Jr. due to a sore knee, leading to Brandon Clarke making his first career start alongside Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder and Jonas Valanciunas. The Rockets would be without Russell Westbrook as they started James Harden, Eric Gordon, Danuel House, P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela.
The Grizz had a lead at the half way mark in the first quarter after Morant opened the game scoring the first two buckets for Memphis. One minute after Tyus Jones subs in for Morant, the Grizzlies lead vanishes into a seven point deficit until Morant returns with 48 seconds and hits a three to end the first quarter 33-28. It was clear from the tip, that Morant was the best player on the floor for Memphis on Monday night.
In the second quarter it was more of the same for Morant, leading Memphis to reclaim the lead at 37-35. We also got to see the rookies hook up for a sweet play early in the quarter:
The Grizzlies would hold a lead unto the 4 minute mark in the quarter when James Harden and Danuel House would take over the quarter leading the Rockets to a 62-60 lead at halftime.
The starters returned to the floor to begin the second half and they managed to regain a four point lead at 68-64, their final lead of the night. Ja Morant came out halfway through the quarter, just as he did in the first quarter, down 70-68 and the wheels proceeded to fall off. Within three minutes Harden and Ben McLemore — yes the same Ben McLemore— extended the lead to eleven. The Grizzlies were only able to shave three points off that deficit as the third quarter closed 84-76.
Bruno Caboclo opened the final frame with a dunk to cut the lead to 6, which would be as close as Memphis would be the rest of the night. Down 7, Ja Morant was pulled at the nine minute mark before returning again at the 6 minute mark. In that time on the bench, the Grizz without their best offensive player let the lead get back up to 10 while struggling to score. The Grizzlies could never make a basket after getting a stop and eventually ended up losing 107-100.
Without Jaren Jackson Jr., it was expected that Brandon Clarke would have a big game. BC was a +7 and led the team in blocks with 4 and was third in rebounding with 6. The problem was that Clarke only played 20 minutes, which was baffling. Just as odd was Jenkins’ use of Ja Morant. Morant was the only Grizz that had it going tonight and was a GAME HIGH +12. but only played 28 minutes. Meanwhile, Solomon Hill played 15 minutes, accumulated three fouls and was a horrifying -20. Outside of one game, Hill has been bad, so it leaves one to wonder how out of shape or hurt Melton is.
It does not seem to be clear what the goal of this season is. On a night that the Rockets were missing a MVP player, the rotations did not seem to be built to win the game as Memphis closed with Bruno and Kyle Anderson rather than either Clarke or Valanciunas. If the goal is player development, then only playing Clarke and Morant for a combined 48 minutes does not make much sense either. This one was a head scratcher, and its obvious Memphis, still, as always, need shooters.