Even the best NBA teams will lose many games in an NBA season. However, even in a thrilling 116-111 overtime victory in Brooklyn against the short-handed Nets, the Grizzlies still lost. It’s very possible that they watched their season come to a screeching halt, as Ja Morant was wheeled off the court in writhing pain after severely injuring his left ankle near the end of the second quarter. It was fortunately found to not be a fracture later in the night.
When your franchise player does down in awful fashion, the game in and of itself almost seems irrelevant. Which is a shame, because there were plenty of encouraging performances for the Grizzlies, especially in the first half. Kyle Anderson set the tone early as he continued his shooting revival, making three threes in the first six minutes of the game. Brandon Clarke began to round into form, totaling 6 points and 5 rebounds in the half.
The Grizzlies led by as many 13 in the first half, but the Nets were able to make a run in the aftermath of Morant’s injury, taking a 55-54 halftime lead. The second half was a back-and-forth affair throughout, as impressive play from Dillon Brooks (24 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists on the night) and Anderson (allowed the Grizzlies to keep pace with the Nets, who were led by superb performances from Caris LeVert (28 points and 10 assists) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (21 points and 6 rebounds) . The game would go to overtime at 106-106 after LeVert missed a setback three at the buzzer, and the Grizzlies would find a way to win, with Kyle Anderson making three free throws to close it out.
To be sure, it was a win that the Grizzlies needed after a rough start to the season, and it was punctuated by encouraging performances all the way around. Anderson finished with a career-high 28 points and shot 4-8 from three, and Clarke looked just as impactful as he was during his rookie season, totaling 16 points on 6-11 shooting and 7 rebounds.
But until we learn the extent of Ja Morant’s injury, this night will have a dark cloud hanging over it.