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Report Card: A Night to Forget

A brutal night in Boston

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies had a rough start in front of a sell-out crowd in Boston, missing 9 of their first 10 field goal attempts. But, they were finally able to get the offense going and made 9 of their next 11 to lead by 2 points at the end of the first quarter. Despite the five turnovers, it seemed the team had woken up and were ready to play.

When the second quarter started, the Grizz came out firing. Almost halfway through the second quarter, Dillon Brooks hit a step-back jumper to give Memphis a 7 point lead. Indeed, it seemed like this young squad was capable of pulling off the upset to quickly shake off Monday’s loss.

Then, the wheels fell off.

The Celtics turned up their defensive intensity and forced the Grizzlies to miss their next 11 shots. Though, Memphis should get some of the credit for that as well. Carelessness with the basketball, horrendous shooting, and selfish play had the Grizzlies’ offense looking like a shell of what it was during their most recent win streak. Rather than step up to the challenge and make it up with defensive pressure, this young team let the poor offensive play spill over into lackadaisical efforts on defense. Boston took full advantage by shooting 54.5% in the second quarter to power a 23-2 run to end the half with a fourteen point lead. The game was never in question after that.

Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Starting Five: 40 points on 47 shots, 6-19 from three, 8 assists, 11 turnovers

Jonas Valanciunas had a solid night offensively, scoring 16 points on 7-13 shooting, including 1-2 from long-range. He even contributed on defense with 2 steals and 2 blocks to go with his always reliable rebounding (13 boards last night). Jaren Jackson Jr. got in on the block party as well, swatting four shots through three quarters despite struggling offensively with 13 points on 5-13 shooting. Everything else about the starting five last night was abysmal.

Ja Morant was said to be dealing with an illness, and it showed. He wasn’t playing like himself, lacking energy and aggressiveness all night. Dillon Brooks seemed to quit caring about the game after his lone made field goal that gave Memphis its 7 point lead in the first quarter. He finished with 6 points and 4 turnovers. Lastly, Jae Crowder not only had trouble figuring out where the bottom of the net was (1-8 shooting), he also failed to provide a veteran presence and was one of the poorest decision-makers all night.

If it weren’t for the curve from Valanciunas, this would’ve been a failing grade for the starters.

Grade: D

Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Bench: 50 points on 38 shots, 5-13 from three, 16 assists, 5 turnovers

The Grizzlies reserves got plenty of game experience in this one, as Valanciunas was the only starter head coach Taylor Jenkins even let touch the court in the fourth quarter. The Celtics likewise rested their starting five for the entire fourth quarter, but for the opposite reason - they had amassed a 99-63 lead by the end of the third quarter. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t notice, then, that the Memphis bench responded quite well by outscoring Boston’s 32-20 in the final period.

They performed well as a whole, but it was certainly a mixed bag. Brandon Clarke was an efficient scorer as usual with 9 points on 4-6 shooting. However, he was a non-factor on defense with zero steals, zero blocks, and two fouls. Solomon Hill contributed 13 points on the same 4-6 shooting to go with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and not a single foul or turnover. The coaching staff had to be happy with that.

Grayson Allen, despite going 0-3 from deep, had a good showing overall. He went 4-5 on two-point attempts and 2-2 from the charity stripe to finish with 10 points along with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. More importantly, he didn’t have a single turnover or foul in 18 minutes of game action.

While the bench players for Memphis have all had their struggles at times this season and in this game, they played well overall. This loss isn’t on them. It rests solely on the starters.

Grade: B

Quick Grades

  • The point guards for Memphis were atrocious. Morant and Tyus Jones combined to score 5 points on 9 shots, unable to get to the free-throw line a single time. While they did have 9 total assists, don’t let that fool you. Neither was able to run the offense effectively, which was a large reason why things fell apart. Grade – F
  • Kyle Anderson quietly put together a respectable outing last night. He had 10 points on 4-7 shooting, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers in 14 minutes. Perhaps more games like this will finally earn him more playing time in front of some of the less reliable forwards in front of him. Grade – B+
  • He’s highlighted above, but Jonas Valanciunas deserves a second mention on a night when the other starters gave him little assistance. While Morant and Jackson are rightfully seen as the future of the franchise and Brooks is turned loose to shoot at will, it is Valanciunas that continues to provide steady, reliable contributions on a nightly basis. On nights when things aren’t going smoothly, the team really needs to turn to him more often when they are searching for ways to weather the storms. Grade – A-

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