It was a night where basketball came second. Just hours after news broke of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant’s passing away in a helicopter crash, the Grizzlies and Suns had to collect their emotions for a few hours to play a game of basketball. In honor of Kobe, the Grizzlies had a moment of silence before the game and then the Grizzlies took a 24 second shot clock violation after winning the opening tip. In another nod to Kobe, the Suns took an 8 second back-court violation to honor an NBA legend.
The actual game started out a little sluggish, understandably slow. After combining for just 14 points through the first 6 minutes, the Grizzlies got into a good offensive rhythm behind Jonas Valanciunas and were able to finish the 1st quarter with a 30-18 lead over the Suns.
The Grizzlies offense seemed to disappear in the 2nd quarter as they scored just 6 points through the first 6 minutes, allowing the Suns to claw back into the game. That was before Dillon Brooks started cooking with 6 quick points midway through the quarter to help the Grizzlies regain a double-digit lead. The Suns were able to chip into the Grizzlies lead multiple times throughout the quarter, but the Grizzlies had a response for every run before ultimately ending the first half with an 11 point lead.
The Grizzlies really struggled coming out of the halftime break. Turnovers had been an issue all game, but the 3rd quarter was especially bad as they committed 9 in the quarter. The Grizzlies had dominated almost every facet of the game as they outshot the Suns, dominated the boards and had more assists. The turnovers gave the Suns some easy looks and some fast break 3-pointers that allowed them to cut the Grizzlies lead to 3 heading into the 4th quarter.
The Grizzlies and Suns traded baskets through the first 6 minutes of the 4th, with neither able to take a size able lead on the other. In usual Ja fashion, he made a handful of magical plays to give the Grizzlies some momentum down the stretch to try and put away the Suns, including posterizing another one of his teammates. This time, the victim was Brandon Clarke.
Devin Booker and the Suns wouldn’t quite go away, though, never letting the Grizzlies extend their lead past 5 points as they eventually came back to tie the game in the closing minutes. It was the Ja Morant show as he put the team on his back in the closing minutes scoring 6 straight points during a stretch in the final 3 minutes. It was a thrilling end to the game as the Suns had an answer for every Grizz basket. A missed free throw by Ricky Rubio, followed by great fast break defense by Kyle Anderson on Kelly Oubre in the final minute helped give the Grizzlies the lead for good as they went on to win 114-109.