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Grizzlies compete, then collapse, against the Thunder

That’s gonna sting in a couple months.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

So apparently the race to convey got a swift kick in the ass this weekend.

The Memphis Grizzlies, on the second night of a back to back and without their three best players that actually started the season as Grizzlies (Mike Conley, Jaren Jackson Jr., Kyle Anderson), scared the hell out of the Oklahoma City Thunder IN OKC. It took a tremendous collapse (a 32-20 4th quarter for the Thunder) for OKC to win this game 99-95. Of course the Thunder not having their MVP candidate Paul George helped the cause of Memphis in this game, but again, Mike Conley was out. Jaren Jackson Jr. was out. Yet here we are, talking about a game that most though the Grizzlies would get blown out in that they were winning by eight heading in to the final frame before superior talent and coaching took over.

Opportunity appears to indeed be one hell of a motivator.

Here are some takeaways from a loss that prevents Memphis from earning consecutive victories for the first time in a month.

Avery Bradley is the new (better) Jeff Green

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Look at any basic stat, advanced stat, whatever number you want, and it will say before Avery Bradley came to the Memphis Grizzlies he was very bad at basketball.

Since his arrival in Memphis? He is back to being very good at basketball...or is he?

That sounds stupid to ask after a game in which Avery drops 27 points on 19 shots, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Despite the increase in his numbers compared to his time with the L.A. Clippers, there are still signs he may be...less good than you think.

That was, clearly, tweeted before the past couple of games, where surely that number has improved some. Avery has been a breath of fresh air (as have many of the new acquisitions) and there’s no denying he is creating on the perimeter better than just about every Grizzly wing has so far this season. Small sample size theater is at work here on both sides as well - it’s hard to say Avery Bradley sucks when he carries the team to a strong performance, but that stat above should be watched moving forward.

On this night? Avery was at times the best player on the don’t need numbers for that one. Your eyes should tell you that.

That’s the Delon Wright we want to see

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, supposed centerpiece of the Gasol trade. Looking good.

While Jonas Valanciunas would like a word with the above statement, there’s no denying that of the three that came to Memphis in the deal for Marc (Wright/Valanciunas/C.J. Miles) it is Wright who is most likely to be in Memphis beyond the summer of 2020. He is a restricted free agent, so the Grizzlies have more control over his long-term future than they do Valanciunas and Miles, who have player options that could make them potential unrestricted free agents this summer. Wright hopefully will serve a similar role to Kyle Anderson, except in the back court - a player that can create, defend, and score in a variety of ways from a variety of positions. Her versatility carries value...but how much value remains to be seen.

In this game, Wright showed why he should be in the Grizzlies long-term plans. 17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists. More of that, please.

Quick Hits

  • Jonas Valanciunas is possibly a literal Lithuanian grizzly bear. He bodied Steven Adams, arguably the strongest player in the NBA, on several occasions in the post. 16 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks...he’s the anti-Marc. That doesn’t mean he is better than Marc - he isn’t. What he may be, though, is a better fit for the Grizzlies as they are now, and moving forward, than Marc.
  • C.J. Miles is alive? In what may be his best game as a Grizzly, C.J. Miles was the lone Grizzlies reserve player with a positive +/-. A flawed in-game stat to be sure, but considering he led the bench in minutes he contributed both as a shooter and as a defender to positive plays for Memphis.
  • The Bruno Caboclo and Joakim Noah honeymoons may be over. Bruno had a team-worst -10 on the evening - the only starter in the negatives - and Joakim was 1-5 from the floor and only grabbed three boards in 16 minutes of play. These guys are going to have “meh” to bad nights - one was in the G-League two months ago, and the other was paid to leave the New York Knicks several months ago. But their successes played big parts in the Grizzlies recent run of good basketball. It makes sense that these two struggling would help lead to losses.

The Memphis Grizzlies, now 25-40 on the season, will be back in action on Tuesday night when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers at FedExForum. Tip is scheduled for 7 PM CT.

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