In three of their four victories during this stretch, the Thunder overcame 18+ point deficits; and OKC found themselves down 20+ again Thursday night. Memphis blew a 24 point lead in their last meeting and deja vu seemed to be setting in as the Thunder scratched their was within single digits late.
Memphis was not interested in a repeat result as they held off OKC 110-97. So let’s dole out some grades for this game:
The Grizz bench combined for 46 points, 25 rebounds, 17 assists, 5 blocks and a combined +51. Tyus Jones led the way with 15 points, followed by Brandon Clarke with 10, including 2-2 from three. More impressive off the bench was the box score stuffing of both De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson. Melton had 9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals while Kyle had 2 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. The bench unit is currently a top 5 unit in the Association and continues to be an integral part of the team’s limited success.
While watching the game, I had no idea who the leading scorer was. When Ja Morant drops 20, its typically loud, you know it. When Dillon Brooks is leading, well Pete Pranica and Brevin Knight remind you of the team’s undefeated record when he scores 20+. You get the idea - when most guys on this team are leading in scoring, it's noticeable. It was to my surprise that Jonas paced the team on this night.
His overall stat line was unimpressive as he only amassed 4 rebounds to go along with his 21 points, but rebounding against Steven Adams is one of the toughest tasks in the NBA. Jonas was efficient going 9-11 from the field and made Adams work all night.
JAREN JACKSON JR.
The Sophomore forward is finding his scoring touch and he is not slowing down. Jaren scored 20 points for the third time in the last four games. He also pitched in 3 blocks and 2 steals, while still underwhelming in the rebounding department with just 4. He led the team with 19 shots, 9 from deep, but was inefficient. His confidence to shoot and Jenkins’ allowance of such is a great thing for this Grizzlies team as Jaren should be top 2 or 3 in shot attempts nightly for this squad.
Jaren has the talent to average 20 per game and he continued to flash that tonight, knocking down threes and driving against weaker defenders. Look for him to continue his hot streak. Oh, he also only had 3 fouls.
First thought is that Coach Jenkins got his crew to regroup after a thumping at home Monday night to win on the road. That would be equivalent to an A on one of the tests for the night. The next test would be the rotations.
Jenkins continues to roll out an 11 man rotation and give a lot of minutes to some guys over others. For instance, Solomon Hill, the guy no team wanted and kept shipping out, got 14 minutes to Kyle Anderson’s 12 and Brandon Clarke’s 19. Sure, Hill has looked good recently, but so did Shelvin Mack for a stretch last season. Split those 14 minutes amongst Anderson and Clarke and let Solo get garbage minutes if they are there.
Jae Crowder played 28 minutes and continued to struggle with his shot. The idea of Crowder was fun and all, but watching him jack shots up left and right like he has the James Harden green light is getting old. Dillon “Kobe-Bryant-In-His-Own-Mind” Brooks, has off nights; he is consistently inconsistent. On those occasions, it is ok to limit his minutes as you have guys such as Melton and Grayson Allen on the bench. Two straight games Grayson has been playing well, knocking down shots, only to come out of the game for a struggling Crowder.
This is a development year so unless the front office is just trying to showcase guys like Crowder and Hill for trades, Jenkins should play guys that could be a part of the future over guys not here past this season.