If there was ever a pregame to listen to Jay-Z & Kanye West's "No Church In The Wild," this should've been that game. "What's a king to a God?" Is the 3rd most memorable line of a song oh so fitting for the occasion. Especially in a game versus De'Aaron Fox & the Sacremento Kings on the home soil of Memphis TN. "Drip N Slime" came to let it be known, ain't no church in the wild, just a Jaren Jackson Jr. foul.
The Grizzlies had a handle on this game from the jump as they came out swinging early, as usual, & being the bench held up their end of the bargain & then some, it proved to be something the young Kings from Sacramento just couldn't overcome as Memphis jook their way out of a 2 game losing skid for the win.
If someone said Ja lost the battle but won the war of the evening, I would have a hard time opposing said statement. Ja certainly didn't have one of his best games as he honestly looked more human than that of my "Drip God" moniker for him in comparison to a more King-worthy performance from De'Arron Fox. 13 points on 4-13 shooting from the field including shooting blanks with his burner to the tune of 0-3 from deep.
That took his grade down a couple of levels alone. Fox came out looking to apply pressure, sometimes in full court doses which helped contribute to Ja Morant's 5 turnovers as De'Arron Fox played full court defense & took Morant's cookies multiple times in the evening.
Fox came out looking to make a statement & offensively he did so as well scoring 22 points & clearly winning the head to head matchup. This partly why Ja is receiving a D grade. Another reason is being that Ja also had the worst +/- of the entire team this game with a -19 despite the team winning by 4. If +/- is any indication the Grizzlies won tonight's game in spite of the Drip God & not because of him.
Dillon Brooks- B-
Dillon went against the grain of +/- this evening. He contributed 16 points, 6 rebounds & 3 assists in 29 minutes, as his matchup Buddy Hield had only 8 points in 38 minutes of play & the Grizzlies won by four. However Dillon finished the game with a -12 +/-. Dillon only had 2 turnovers but +/- is also an imperfect indication the starters as a collective got outplayed by the Kings group. Dillon's 16 points were crucial this game as every point counts & he gave his fair share of the scoring load even if his starting backcourt mate did have a rough evening.
Jae Crowder- A
Jae Crowder gets the game ball for this affair, even if consistency has alluded him in general to some degree. Crowder had a very good all around game with had 17 points, 10 rebounds & 5 assists. Jae shot 6-11 from the field despite going 2-6 from deep so he was also very efficient without the long range shooting. For what it's worth, Crowder also had the highest +/- of the starters with a -3.
Solomon Hill B-
The resident OG with Don King hair inspirations had a solid showing tonight as he stepped into the starting lineup to fill in for Jonas who was out with Foot Soreness. Hill was active defensively, as well as on the boards where he contributed 6 rebounds to help stop the rebounding assault Sacramento looked to initiate with Jonas Valanciunas sitting this one out. Solomon even came with swag tonight, serving up a very needed 9 points & being a veteran catalyst as the Grizzlies beat another team they weren't expecting to beat, especially down a starter & their best rebounder in Jonas but they were also able to play much faster tempo than the taller & slower kings.
Jaren Jackson Jr- A-
Jaren had a very good game all around as well. Jaren was able to avoid foul trouble enough to play 30 minutes, despite being active enough to have 4 blocks & 3 steals on the evening. That alone speaks volumes about his focus & awareness on the night. JJJ also chipped in 18 points 5 rebounds & 2 assists on the evening, making this a sample platter game of sorts for the former Spartan. Jaren looled to get others going with very sound passing & never hesitates to use the burner from deep when he felt compelled to do so. Jaren didn't help much in the rebounding department, (a common theme for him). Thankfully the 60-40 rebound advantage Sac-town had with Jonas out didnt cost the Grizzlies the game, which was sheer luck to buck such a trend to say the least.
Tyus Jones A
Jones got hot & started going so early in the game as he played more off ball, specifically in catch & shoot situations as he got going early as Melton & others feed him bucket getting assists. Tyus also looked to create a few shots on his own as he scored 12 points in just 18 minutes on a very efficient 4-7 from the field including 2-4 with his burner. He also contributed 3 rebounds, 4 assists & 2 steals on the evening & really stepped up with great timing as Ja struggled with D'Fox on the evening. The fact Tyus had a game high +23 +/- despite the team only winning by 4 validates (again, imperfectly) the effort he gave defensively. Not quite enough production to get an A+ but in his limited minutes, his high production was certainly worthy of an A grade.
Grayson Allen- B+
Grayson had a strong showing as well as a couple of highlights including a dunk he was feed on a cut to the basket from Brandon Clarke. Grayson had 13 points in his 20 minutes on 5-8 from the field for a 62.5% shooting performance. Grayson was assertive throughout the night, even ignoring De’Anthony Melton being wide open for an easy bucket becuase he had his own bucket at the rim on mind of which he did make. He has rediscovered the scrappy & crafty defense he gained a reputation for as a freshman at Duke.
De’Anthony Melton- A
De’Melt waa more than a cheesy sandwhich tonight, as he scored 11 points in only 14 minutes along with 4 assists & 3 rebounds with the 2nd highest +/- of the evening with a +16. He was aggressive as usual as he has become a source of tenacious energy for the Grizzlies & it shows in his production as he looks to do the little things on the court that keep him active & accumulating production, hence his hefty production in limited ticks. When Melton wasn't feeding guys like Tyus, he was breaking defenders down smoothly for his own highlight reel & his defense helped keep the Kings bench in check & thus winning the game as the Grizzlies bench clearly won this game.
Brandon Clarke- B+
Brandon didn't cover his season average for points per game nor rebounds but he also didn't quite play as many minutes either with only 18 minutes. Brandon had 8 points 4 rebounds & 3 assists, so he was certainly active & still generated the same amount of points he normally does. His defense was on point like Stacy Adams hence the +13 +/- as usual even though Marvin Bagley III got busy as well on the other end. Brandon Clarke continues to find ways to be productive as his mind works like a computer, always looking to be of help. The bench had 3 double digit scorers & Clarke was just one bucket shy of being the 4th. That said, he was worthy of a solid B+ grade on the evening.
Taylor Jenkins & the coaching gang deserve credit for winning a game versus a solid Sacremento team in spite of a bad game from the "Drip God" Morant & missing Jonas Valanciunas though the latter isn't nearly as devastating. When in doubt Jenkins dug deep into his bench, playing Grayson, Melton, & Tyus as well as the starting backcourt & kudos to him for showing faith becuase it paid off in the form of a win. The fact Jenkins coached up a win in a game were he was without his best rebounder & thus slaughtered on the glass in total, says alot. When you factor in that he didnt have anyone aside from Crowder reach 10 rebounds & still won a game they were out rebounded by 20 speaks volumes to the strategy & tactics of the team as a whole. The fact the coaches didn't have another late game collapse with this young team so accustomed to it, also boosted the coaching grade to the A- the coaching as a whole recieved.