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Report Card: Grizzlies lose second straight to open season

Trae Young and Hawks bench too much for young Grizz

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Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies were not able to notch their first win of the young season Saturday evening, falling 122-112 to the Atlanta Hawks. A few of the problems that plagued the Grizzlies in their previous game, as well as last season, reared their ugly heads again.

The bench group looked lost in the first quarter without a starter on the court. The Hawks went on a 17-2 run against the Grizzlies bench, after the starters built a small lead. They were also outscored by the Hawks bench 46-22.

Trick-or-treat Dillon Brooks returned for the Grizz. At times, Brooks was great, especially running with the bench in the third quarter. Other times, Brooks was once again taking ill-advised shots, and committed momentum-killing fouls.

These problems, along with a Trae Young takeover in the 4th quarter (15 pts, 9-11 FTs) led to the Grizzlies defeat.

Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Ja Morant-28 points, 10-21 from the field, 7 assists, 3 rebounds (A)

For an encore performance to his 44-point masterpiece, Ja pitched in with a hard-earned 28 points.

The Hawks did a good job throwing different defenders at Ja throughout the game, making him work for his points. Ja tried to take over the fourth quarter once again, but anytime he tried to get to the bucket, he was greeted with a little contact.

You could see Ja’s frustration boil over on not getting any calls when he was t’d up late down the stretch. While the timing was not ideal, it was nice to see the emotion from the budding superstar, and maybe that will benefit him in the future.

Ja is the man who wants the ball in his hands when it matters most. I know it’s being said over and over, but Memphis is lucky to watch this once-in-a-generation player grow up before our eyes.

Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Kyle Anderson-20 points, 8-15 from the field, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks (A+)

Slo-mo put on a show for the Grizzlies tonight.

Anderson grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds and had himself a double-double in the first half. I think it’s safe to say, the Grizzlies would not have had a chance in this game if not for Anderson. He made some shots when the Grizz were in desperate need of a bucket.

If there was a silver-lining in the Grizz loss, it’s that Anderson appears healthy and is the kind of player the Grizzlies expected to get when they signed him in free agency in 2018. In fact, this is the best I’ve seen him as a pro.

Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Jonas Valanciunas- 13 points, 2-6 from the field, 12 rebounds, 1 block (C-)

JV got a double-double, just like we have grown accustomed to. But, if there is such a thing as an empty stat-line, this is it.

This game is one that Jonas should have absolutely dominated down low. The Hawks were without a true center, as several of their big men are dealing with injuries. JV should have just posted up down low and gone to work. Instead, he spent a good amount of time around the perimeter and seemed disinterested sometimes on the block.

I’m a big fan of Jonas, but this is a game that likely he and Grizzlies fans would like to forget.

The Grizzlies have a lot of work to do before they can be considered contenders in the West. Sure, they are dealing with some key injuries, but if the Grizzlies can fix a few small things, they can turn losses like this into wins. If the Coach Taylor Jenkins doesn’t figure out what to do with the rotation, it could be a long winter for the Grizz.

It may also be beneficial for the Grizzlies to possibly think about putting Dillon on the bench once JJJ and Justise return from injuries. He did play well with the bench guys, leading a 9-1 run late in the third quarter. But, that decision is something for down the road.

The Grizzlies will look to get their first win of the season Monday on the road against the Brooklyn Nets.

Team Grade: C

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