Youngins do youngin things, & losing a game you were serving a 24 point blowout in the 2nd half...talk about dropping the ball. Again, Memphis was up 24 points in the 3rd quarter in "Drip 'N Slime" fashion, & squandered the game away in the last 15 minutes. In what many may have viewed as a battle for the change of guard for the NBA's "Point Gods" Chris Paul led his team to a late victory with help from everyone in the 3rd quarter & certainly Dennis Schroder, who had more Lionheart than Jean Claude Van Damme. The young Memphis group seemed to relish in victory a little too early.
Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke & Jonas Valanciunas all got off hot starts & led the Grizzlies into the locker room for the half with Ja & Jonas as double digit scorers & up 9 points. As the 3rd quarter progressed the Grizzlies were piling it on the Thunder but they couldn't close the game late nor stop the scorching hot hand of OKC 6th man of the year candidate Dennis Schroder, nor the genius smarts of OG Point God himself Chris Paul. Not to mention a wasted career game from sneakily amazing Brandon Clarke.
Ja Morant- B+
The Drip God fared pretty well against the original Point God himself Chris Paul & all of his savvy veteran genius & almost stole a game but as the saying goes "close but no cigar."
Despite Ja having 22 points 7 assists 5 rebounds & a +14 +/- in 32 minutes, he couldn't rally his team late in the game to pull off an upset of sorts. Ja had some amazing moments as usual, & had an all around showing. However, he couldn't do enough to stop the bleeding started by what was supposed to be relief for Memphis in the form of reserves. Dennis Schroder had buckets for everybody & though Ja was surprisingly good defensively considering the circumstances, adding Schroeder's damage versus Memphis reserves with CP3 & Shai Gilgeous-Alexander giving 18 & 20 respectfully, proved to be too much to overcome. In such a tight 4th quarter game, a guy smart enough to use the jersey tuck rule to win a game will do whatever it takes to get the W. Ja got the Drip, but CP3's finesse game in the clutch is the finest of chess plays.
Dillon Brooks B
Aside from the 4 turnovers, Dillon played a solid all-around game. He finished with a +/- of +8 in 33 minutes despite the Grizzlies losing by 4. Brooks chipped in 15 points on 12 shots for 42% with 2 of his 3 attempts made from three-point territory. Dillon also played his part in crashing the boards with 6 rebounds of his own, but being aggressive is rarely if ever a problem for Dillon anyway. He didn't do much late game so it cost him a letter grade but I'd take his contribution to this game on a nightly basis.
Jae Crowder D+
Jae just couldn't get it going as he was 1-6 from the field & that only shot made was a three point attempt. Not gonna cut it when you play 32 minutes & the young guys needed a veteran to counter the wisdom of Chris Paul on the other end leading an assault on the Memphis paint defense. He was a -2 in the +/- column & only 3 points for the night.
Jaren Jackson C-
Jaren picked up ticky tack fouls early that took him out for most of the game, which ultimately proved to cost the Grizzlies the game. Jaren out of the game lead to an invasion of the paint from OKC. When Jaren was in for 16 minutes, he was very active & effective on both ends as he scored 9 points in such a short minutes window & played great defense when he wasn't fouling. Jaren has proven to be a glutton for foul trouble & until he learns to play with his hands up more with the ref can see them & stop biting so much then he will continue to suffer in minutes & activity on the court in those games.
Jonas Valanciunas- B+
Jonas was high productive in his 26 minutes with 24 points, of which 6 points came from 2 made shots from three-point land, & 9 rebounds along with 3 assists. Unfortunately due to the pace of the game Jonas was limited to only half of the game so he could only help with so much hence him not getting an A grade despite the team's highest +/-. This also shows the limitations of the +/- stat being they had to hide Jonas on the bench for half of the game & he still had a +16 in a 4 point loss.
Despite good games from multiple reserves, as a collective they gave the Thunder life that cost them the game in the 3rd quarter. Memphis proved to be too small with Jaren in foul trouble throughout the game. No one on the bench could truly provide the rim protection needed with Jaren limited to foul trouble. Solomon Hill was decent with 8 points in 23 minutes but just not big enough for what was a huge OKC team in comparison. Kyle Anderson had a strong game of 9 points in only 15 minutes but he was probably the tallest man off the bench. & thus not enough in the grand scheme of things to stop what hurt the most.
De'Anthony Melton D-
Melton has some reckless moments & this game adds to that. He got in foul trouble early & was 28.6% on 2-7 shooting from the field in only 14 minutes. He just couldn't get going after the fouls limited his game & Dennis Schroder giving him constant buckets made matters worst, so his 5 points were meager in comparison.
Brandon Clarke A+
Clarke deserves a solid A grade with 27 points & 7 rebounds in only 25 minutes as he was literally unstoppable attacking the basket from a variety of ways. He wasn't enough to protect the rim as OKC ripped the Grizzlies paint defense apart with such a lack of front court help.
As usual Taylor Jenkins leads his guys out the gate on a hot start but like his young team made rookie mistakes coaching that allows games to slip through the cracks. Losing a game you were up 9 points at halftime is one thing, but losing a game you were up 24 points well into the 3rd quarter is just a bad look. I wanna criticize Jenkins for the loss, but the roster being thin of big men & paint defense mainly cost the Grizzlies this game & that is the doing of the front office not coaching. So because of that I will spare him the D- I initially felt he deserved & gave him a C which alludes to his well coached first 30 minutes & the disaster of the last 18 minutes of regulation.