The Grizzlies rotation was short once again as Duke teammates Grayson Allen and Justise Winslow were down with injuries and Jordan Bell and Gorgui Dieng were DNP-CD as they become more familiar with the team.
The first quarter in DC was a microcosm of the game against the 76ers. The Grizzlies struggled on both sides of the floor early and often. The team came out and fed Jaren Jackson Jr on a post up against Rui Hachumira, but then failed to get the ball in the paint for a majority of the quarter. The first quarter is typically a great quarter for this young Memphis squad but the Wizards led 30-18 at the end of one.
The Grizz made adjustments in the second quarter, placing an emphasis on getting the ball inside. Of the 11 made shots by Memphis in the second, 9 were within 8 feet from the basket. At the 6:39 mark, Dillon Brooks dunked the ball to put the Grizzlies up 40-38 but the Wizards ended the quarter on a 17-7 run. Memphis won the quarter, shaving 4 points off the first quarter deficit.
Entering the third quarter, the Wizards were able to stretch their lead back to 12, 65-53. Rather than the normal Jones for Morant substitution at the 6 minute mark, Coach Jenkins left Ja in as he was the only player on the team creating any energy or spark. Morant led the team on a 13-3 run with 2 points and 4 assists in the next three minutes before subbing out for Tyus Jones. The two teams battle back and forth for the remaining 4 minutes of the quarter with the Wizards leading 85-80 heading into the final stanza.
Despite not playing well all night, Memphis was still in prime position to win this game. De’Anthony Melton was doing a serviceable job containing Bradley Beal and the team’s confidence rode on their budding super star point guard. For the 15th time Ja Morant scored at least 10 points in the fourth quarter. His free throws with 5 minutes remaining reclaimed the lead at 94-93 and the Grizzlies never trailed again. Not only did Morant register another 20 point 10 assist performance, on the final shot of the night, Ja grabbed his tenth rebound for his first career triple-double.
Since signing his extension, Dillon Brooks has struggled shooting the basketball, 33% and 23% in his last two game. Both he and JJJ were in a bit of foul trouble against Washington and Jonas could never really get it going. Tonight was on the backs of Ja and Kyle Anderson and they carried their squad across the finish line.