On a night where Mike Conley stood alone among the all-time great Memphis Grizzlies as the top scorer in franchise history, Captain Clutch’s squad fell to the Golden State Warriors in a game that was closer than the final score of 118-103 suggests. The game was a five point affair heading in to the final frame, which the Warriors won 29-19.
The Grizzlies hung tough for much of the game against the best offense in the NBA, putting together their own impressive shooting performances while creating multiple turnovers and playing passing lanes to get multiple extra scoring opportunities. The Warriors only committed 14 turnovers, but Memphis was opportunistic, turning those in to points more often than not.
Here are some takeaways from a good night in Memphis, despite the (expected) loss.
Good for Mike Conley
So often Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph get the majority of attention when the “Greatest Grizzly of All-Time” debate gets going. But tonight’s milestone is another feature in the cap of the argument for Conley for that title. He has spent his entire career in Memphis, and despite his future being up in the air and “health concerns” as the season ends he has filled up the stat sheet on a consistent basis when he plays. He seems inspired in some way - maybe the burden of expectation has reinvigorated him. Maybe playing with a true old school big like Jonas Valanciunas (more on him in a minutes) has created more opportunity for him offensively. Tonight was no different - 22 points on 14 shots with 8 assists is a good night of work.
Whatever it is, it is working well. Congrats to Mike - he may not be around much longer, but he is appreciated by Memphis for all he has done for the Grizzlies.
Jonas Valanciunas can be dominant
In a first quarter where Valanciunas dropped 14 on the heads of the Warriors, three different Golden State players drew the assignment to try to stop the newest Grizzlies big. None of them succeeded. Jonas is capable of stretches of dominance in the post that Memphis hasn’t seen since Zach Randolph. He is extremely physical, he understands the best ways to use his body, and he seems to grasp a universal truth - most NBAers aren’t about that life in the regular season. 27 points, 13 rebounds...he isn’t the best rim protector, but he sure as hell can score the ball and rebound.
Valanciunas has only one speed - full speed. He lowers his head and runs through his opposition. That fits in Memphis really well, and considering his strengths could theoretically cover up Jaren Jackson Jr.’s weaknesses, Grizzlies fans probably are right to want him to stick around.
Chandler Parsons is good at basketball again
Before you all post reminders that he will never live up to his contract - you’re right, of course - understand the fact that Parsons can contribute at all is, in fact, a blessing for the Grizzlies. There were times he was paid to not be in Memphis, and times he couldn’t string together consecutive games in non back to back situations...and all that happened within this season!
Yet here we are, watching Chandler Parsons complete his 16th straight appearance, his sixth playing over 20 minutes in that span of time. Here we are, seeing Chandler lay out for balls, diving out of bounds, passing the ball well and even scoring in an efficient manner. 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals...if that were to be the average production for Chandler moving forward, he would be a viable option in the Grizzlies rotation moving forward.
That would solve some problems.
- Stop me if you’ve heard this before...the Grizzlies collapsed. Another game, another 4th quarter where the Grizzlies offense falls silent. Any prolonged stretch of time where you’re unable to score against the Warriors will doom you. The Grizzlies won the 1st quarter, the Warriors won the 2nd, the 3rd was essentially a push...then the final frame came, and the scoring stopped for Memphis.
- Calm down on Tyler Dorsey. He struggled in this game. That doesn’t mean he sucks. It doesn’t mean he isn’t an NBA player. It does mean that $1.8 million and a guaranteed roster spot may be a bit too rich for the blood of the Grizzlies. The next few games are huge.
- Julian Washburn played more minutes than Jevon Carter. Woof. Maybe Jevon being taken instead of Jalen Brunson really was the worst thing this front office has done this season...clearly J.B. Bickerstaff has little to no faith in Jevon contributing to winning basketball at this stage.
The Memphis Grizzlies are back in action Saturday night as they start their last long road trip of the season in Phoenix against the Suns.