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Report Card: Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies pave way to win

This throwback night produced a 90s-like game.

Detroit Pistons v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Vancouver jerseys. The throwback court. 90s hip hop. A game in the 90s and 80s..but score wise.

It really was a throwback night in all ways. The production for throwback night continues to stand out. The on-court product also resembled the basketball of old. The two teams combined for 10 three’s a piece, with the Memphis Grizzlies only connecting on two attempts. Both starting centers exploded for 25+ points and 15+ rebounds each. And both teams didn’t crack triple digits.

The second half was ugly, but in the end, the Memphis Grizzlies were able to avoid a “bad loss” to secure a 96-82 win over the Pistons. This win brought them back to .500, giving them 2-game lead for the 8th and final playoff spot.

How did everyone grade out in this one?

Detroit Pistons v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Jonas Valanciunas (A): 26 points, 17 rebounds, 4 blocks (+28)

Games like last night’s slugfest display Jonas Valanciunas’ real value.

The Grizzlies struggled to create anything from beyond the arc, so they turned to their veteran big and unleashed their beast down low. Though Andre Drummond had the athletic advantage here, Valanciunas used his strength and footwork in the post to bully his way to buckets.

Defensively, he also did a stellar job corralling the glass and protecting the rim. 14 of his 17 rebounds came on the defensive end, which is an impressive feat given Drummond’s elite rebounding instincts. He also swatted 4 shots, doing a great job blocking shots from help defensive position.

Some argue that Valanciunas isn’t a fit with this team, because of the system’s fast-paced, perimeter-oriented principles. However, when the young Grizzlies need someone to carry the scoring load for the night, Valanciunas continues to deliver.

Detroit Pistons v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Tyus Jones (A): 13 points, 5 assists, 6-11 shooting (+6), 21 minutes

Tyus Jones continues his stellar work as the Grizzlies’ backup floor general.

As Ja Morant broke out to a slow start, Jones came out and put pressure on the Pistons’ defense. He connected on one of the Grizzlies’ two 3-point attempts. He attacked the paint with a nifty floater game, while also fearlessly finishing against a great rim protector like Drummond.

Aside from scoring, he also dished out 5 assists, facilitating in transition and in the pick-and-roll with ease.

Other Grades

  • Dillon Brooks (B+) showed off his 3-level scoring abilities, primarily getting a lot of his points creating in the mid-range. He also served as a solid secondary playmaker, generating 5 assists. Pay the man.
  • Ja Morant (C) finished with 6 turnovers, which is uncharacteristic for the rookie point guard. In addition, it took him a bit to get going. However, as always, he flipped the switch in the second half to put away the Pistons.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. (C+) didn’t spray from deep in this one, not connecting on a single three for just the 6th time this year. Though he wasn’t an electrifying scorer, I was in awe of his aggressiveness attacking off the dribble. I’m interested to see a bit more of point Jaren this year.

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