The Grizzlies flat out did not come to play Wednesday night against the Bulls. They were shut down from the tip and lost this one 106-99. The Grizzlies were short-handed, but it does not excuse them from this performance against a struggling Bulls team. Ja Morant, Kyle Anderson, and Brandon Clarke all missed last night’s contest, and it sure showed on the offensive end.
Memphis ended the game shooting 38.5% from the field and an abysmal 23.3% from three. The Grizzlies were actually the first team all season to miss all their three-point attempts in the first half of a game. This is an impressive feat when not wanting to play down to inferior competition. Even after that first half, it really did not get much better. They finally hit a couple in the second half to get within one point in the fourth quarter, then the Bulls quickly found their stroke pushing this game out of reach.
For the Bulls, Zach LaVine led the scoring with 25 points, and Wendell Carter Jr. finished the night with a double-double of his own scoring 16 points and gathering 13 rebounds. The rest of the Bulls starters all scored in double figures and that is really all their team needed to lead this one wire-to-wire. This was actually the Grizzlies first wire-to-wire loss of the season and also the first wire-to-wire since March of 2017, per the Grizzlies broadcast. In a game that could have gone far for this team even without three studs, they walk away again without much offensive fire power. This is a game the Grizzlies could have come in on the road and stolen a win.
Now, on to grades:
Tyus Jones- D
Let’s first just say that it is not Tyus Jones’ fault that he was starting this game. Morant has been hurt, so Jones has been coming in to take over. He, however, is in no way, shape, or form a starting point guard in this league, and outside of his month long peak in Minnesota, should never be starting on an NBA roster. Jones finished the game with 6 points on 2-for-7 shooting from the field. Also, he had the worst +/- on the team with a -20 rating. Now granted, Jones is a very serviceable back up point guard in this league, but tonight showed, once again, he is not ready. This lack of confidence was displayed by Coach Taylor Jenkins entering the second half when De’Anthony Melton started back out with the team.
Dillon Brooks- D
Is this what we should come to expect from Dillon Brooks this season? He is a switchable wing, so he gets playing time. However, the playing time he gets, he can not execute with it. Last night, he finished with 5 points going 2-for-11 from the field in 24 minutes. This continues to happen over and over for DB. This is the same guy who had that 30 point game in the preseason. Yes, it is preseason, but where did that confidence and shot go? If he can bring anything to this lineup other than a big body to switch, then he needs to be relegated to the bench. Brooks was benched during the fourth quarter crunch time last night, so that could be a sign of what is to come.
Jae Crowder- C+
I feel that the reason Dillon Brooks gets such a bad reputation when he doesn’t is because of Jae Crowder. These two players are basically the same type of player. They are your typical longer, switchable defender that can pick up your leading scorer. While we have seen neither have done that great of a job as of late, Crowder still can bring the offense Brooks lacks. Time and time again for this team, Crowder hits the big shots for the Grizzlies to keep them in games. Last night, he hit the huge three to bring them within one point until the Bulls hit four straight threes to extend the lead. Either way, Crowder scored 15 points last night with 6 rebounds. It is an actual contribution to a team that needs any offense it can find.
Jaren Jackson Jr.- C-
There are some troubling tendencies that are starting to become worrisome with Jaren Jackson Jr. He looked great scoring 31 points last game against the Pacers, and then comes out here in Chicago and looks completely disinterested. He has transformed his offensive game to include a good amount of three-pointers now, and last night they were just not falling for him. In the game, he scored 15 points with 7 rebounds, shooting 6-for-20 from the field and 2-for-5 from three-point range. It was a humbling off-night for Jaren. These will come, but he must not let that affect his play defensively. It is a learning moment for the young star.
Jonas Valanciunas- B
It was a season-high for Jonas Valanciunas has he finished this one with a dominant 32 points and 13 rebounds. He seems like the only offensive weapon for these Grizzlies putting up nights like these with consistency. It is promising to see Valanciunas play so well with a bruising inside-first mentality on offense. His body may have paid a price in this one as he went well over a minute restriction after saying he felt “worse than bad” earlier this week. The Grizzlies will need him to stay dominant if they have any hope of contending in these games with their rookie talent sidelined.
The Bench- C
Nothing too special for the bench tonight. Grayson Allen was the only shooter who was hot tonight scoring 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting. The other bright spot was De’Anthony Melton putting in some important minutes at the point guard spot. He filled up the stat line with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. Melton has turned it on of late for the Grizzlies and could move into that backup point guard role with Jones slipping.
Overall, the Grizzlies did not grade up to where they should against a struggling Bulls team. They need to grab these wins while the can against the lower teams in the league even if they are short-handed and on the road. These are games where you can build off of going forward. They will come in due time.
Next up for the Grizzlies is another flight to Salt Lake City as they look to battle the Utah Jazz on Friday night. The Jazz just took a home loss to the Lakers last night, so maybe the Grizzlies can come in and steal another win from them.