After entering this game as a one & a half point underdog on the road versus the Detroit Pistons, Jaren Jackson, Brandon Clarke, Ja Morant & Dillon Brooks knew what they had to do this game & came prepared to do just that. What they had to do was outrun an older & slower Detroit Pistons team whom is currently on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff bubble. The Grizzlies entered the game themselves a half a game behind San Antonio (who lost to Pheonix Friday night) & just outside the top 8 seeds in the west. After losing back to back games the Grizzlies handled the Pistons & still close out their last 10 games 8-2 in which they experienced a seven game winning streak & a losing streak - go figure!
Memphis Starters: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr, Jonas Valanciunas
Detroit starters: Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose, Svi Mykhailiuk, Sekou Doumbouya, Thon Maker
Friday night was another game the Grizzlies came out the gates storming early & in Piston fashion (pun intended). Derrick Rose struck first to score the first points of the game off of a rebound. It took Memphis 89 seconds to register it's first points (Jaren scored first) but once they did, the young Grizzlies group wasted no time as Ja looked to get guys going early & often. Reggie Jackson actually wasn't bad at all defensively as he helped keep Ja limited to just 16 points on top of Reggie Jackson scoring 14 points himself in his 23 minutes. Jaren Jackson wasn't having any of it as he came out firing away early & often from all over the floor & especially from behind the three-point marker. Jaren scored 13 points in the opening period & lead the Grizzlies to take a 35-23 point lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Grizzlies bench came in towards the latter end of the first & really helped hold the lead as Detroit reserves couldn't find an answer for De'Anthony Melton & Brandon Clarke on the evening & we would see it early and often.
The second quarter saw a more competitive Pistons club take charge, specifically when the Pistons reserves came in & sparked a run lead by reserve Christian Woods. Eventually Jaren Jackson Jr. came right back in as well & kept his hot hand going strong despite foul trouble as he scored another 11 points in the 2nd quarter. The Pistons went on a run & eventually closed out the first half by outscoring the Grizzlies in the second period 38-31. In that run the Pistons were also able to cut the Grizzlies lead down to 5 points as the halftime score was 66-61 Memphis in what had quickly turned into a competitive game with Jaren leading the way at the half with 24 points.
Simply put, the young tandem of Thon & the NBA's youngest player Sekou Doumbouya was just too inexperienced to contain a star like Jaren. Who knows what JJJ goes for tonight if not for foul trouble, as Jaren scored any & every way he could have imagined in the first half. He made Thon & even Christian both victims of his scoring madness in a way that nearly makes one feel sorry for them after every Jaren bucket.
The third quarter was a battle, and Pistons Head Coach Dwayne Casey made some changes as he decided not to start Reggie Jackson in the 2nd half as he needed him to help stabilize the bench with Melton who had 14 points & Clarke who scored 15 points himself, getting off to such hot hands in the first half. Also Derrick Rose came out of halftime with a vengeance & showed why he is worthy of an All-Star selection this season. Derrick looked to take it straight to Dillon Brooks & if it wasn't for Dillon Brooks being another steady hand in the Grizzlies scoring attack, Memphis loses this game. Dillon began to really get in his zone knocking down shot after shot from fastbreak dunks off of Ja Morant assists to his signature mid range game & three-point barrage.
Ja put on a march for dimes in January as he dished out 12 assists to go with his 16 points with over a 2:1 assist/turnover ratio despite having five turnovers. The Grizzlies barely made it out of the 3rd quarter alive as they outscored the Pistons 26-24 for the period as the 3rd quarter ended with the Grizzlies up 92-85.
The 4th quarter saw Memphis begin to pull away from such a roller coaster battle from start to finish, even thought the Grizzlies briefly lost the lead thanks to old franchise villain in Reggie Jackson, who came off the bench to nail a three. After that, it became the Dillon Brooks & Ja Morant show. Dillon went into full "Mamba mentality" late & his shot making with Ja's playmaking was just too much for even former MVP Derrick Rose to match by himself. Jaren Jackson hit another crucial three-point shot late to seal the deal.
The Grizzlies took back the lead & never looked back after this game had experienced 7 lead changes of which the Grizzlies had the biggest lead by 15 points as the biggest lead Detroit had in the game was six points early. The Grizzlies had also won the blocks battle 4:1 as well as the rebound war 49-37. Not to mention, the Grizzlies simply moved the ball around more despite playing at a faster pace.
The "Drip N Slime" gang assisted on 27 shots versus 23 assists from Detroit. The Grizzlies finally pull away winning the final period 33-27 as Memphis finished the game shooting a very efficient 54% from the field. The Pistons weren't awful but 43% from the field won't cut it when you allow the Grizzlies to outscore you every quarter with the exception of the second period & you weren't able to out shoot them from three-point territory.
Great win for the Grizzlies as they prevent a three game slid & got back to 8th place.