On the eve of the NBA trade deadline, All eyes were on the Memphis Grizzlies, who were still able to tune out any potential distractions. Jae Crowder & Solomon Hill were even pulled from the lineup last minute in observance of potential deals involving both players. The young Grizzlies squad got a break with the MyPlayer known as Luka Doncic out for this game due to a sprain ankle suffered in practice last week & Memphis used such an opportunity to go up one game over .500 on the season record & 3 games up on 9th place Portland for the last playoff slot.
Despite being short handed in a sense themselves, Memphis mashed the gas at a frantic pace on the Mavericks & eventually came out on top 121-107 with Ja Morant's 21 points leading the way scoring. Morant was closely followed by Jaren Jackson Jr. & Tyus Jones, both of whom chipped in 19 points a piece, & Dillon Brooks celebrated that bag he just secured with 13 points of his own. Let's jump into these grades & explanations for each player in a big southwest divisional win.
Ja Morant- 30 min, 21 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, 2 turnovers +7 +/-
The Drip God continues his uber efficient ROY campaign with 21 points on 10-12 shooting from the field. As @PeterEdmiston pointed out on Twitter, Ja Morant takes two three-pointers per game & is shooting 49.9% from the field while averaging 7 assists & a steal per game. The only other rookie to produce at least such a stat line in NBA history...Andre Igoudala, Go figure! Ja actually improved on these stats with his performance tonight (aside from his assists averages) & carved out another win that was not expected, to be honest.
He did so by adapting to the flow of his teammates through out the first 3 quarters & looked to take over the closing period as he has shown to be capable of now on a routine basis. His +7 +/- goes to show he wasn't much of a liability on the defensive end either even though Second year Villanova alum Jalen Brunson did account for 20 points in his 32 minutes filling in as the starter for Luka. Nevertheless, Ja had another damn good showing & lead us to victory with an efficient 21 piece that was mostly done when it was needed most. Solid Grade A- game if you ask me.
Dillon Brooks: 33 min, 13 points, 5-14 FG, 6 rebound,s 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, -10 +/-
The Former Oregon Duck was not only being retained by the Grizzlies during trade season, but is now the 35 million dollar man after agreeing to a three-year deal with the Grizzlies on Wednesday. Dillon came out being his aggressive self even like nothing happened, even if it wasn't the most efficient of performances. He didn't allow Tim Hardaway Jr. to do much, who scored 14 points, and none of the Mavs other wings did much of note either. Decent night despite the ugly -10 +/- in a game his team won by 14 points but we'll chalk it up to the shot percentage of which may have been affected by his excitement of the new deal.
Kyle Anderson: 26 min, 6 points, 2/5 FG, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, +4 +/-
With Jae Crowder being pulled from the starting lineup due to a likely trade, Kyle stepped in & did Slo-Mo things. In his 26 minutes, Kyle Anderson provided the Grizzlies with a decent sample platter of sorts as he had another 5-5-5 game. Kyle looked to create for others this game & do the little things that equate to wins like not allowing your man to be the scoring catalyst, rebounding, setting screens & looking to attack the rim to generate more cutting opportunity for his teammates. Kyle wasn't a world beater by any stretch, but gave the Grizzlies just what they needed to seal the win in the absence of OG Crowder & he did so across the board.
Jaren Jackson Jr 31 min 19 points 7-15 FG 4-8 3FG 6 rebounds 3 assists 2 turnovers 1 steal 2 blocks +8 +/-.
Jaren came out as hot as a six shooter tonight. Despite launching 8 three-point shots, he shot a scorching 50% from deep & was hotter from deep then he was closer to the basket this evening. Jaren was all over the place with activity & made his presence known on both ends, even though Kristaps Porzingis went off for 32 points (despite leaving the game for a few minutes after an accidental elbow to the nose from Josh Jackson). Jaren was a sniper from deep throughout the game & really looked to take advantage of the time Boban was on the floor. His defense was also solid as Jaren looked often to be a playmaker as a result he was a star reason why Memphis was able to steal the game.
Jonas Valanciunas: 27 minutes, 8 points, 10 rebounds, +1 +/-
Jonas didn't do too much this game but he still managed to turn in another double digit rebounding effort & come up just a bucket shy of another double double. This was a high scoring fast paced game for Jonas, but he still managed to stay on the floor 27 minutes & be a positive +/- on the evening. I'll take that from the brusing big.
Brandon Clarke shook off what has been a mini rookie scoring slump as of late for the 6'7 hybrid forward as he played 23 minutes & scored 18 points on 7-10 shooting including 1-2 from deep. Clarke also chipped in 6 rebounds 3 assists 1 block & 1 turnover with the 2nd highest +/- of the evening with a +16. Great bounce back performance for the rising star from Canada.
Tyus Jones must've been really excited about his Duke national championship winning comrade Justise Winslow being traded to the team today because he came out burning the house down with his shooting exploits on the evening. He did most of his scoring damage in one quarter, the third! Tyus was a perfect 8-8 from the field including 3-3 from deep with 3 rebounds & 2 assists to cap it off with a +9 +/- ).
De'Anthony Melton had 10 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, and a game high +27 which means he was awesome doing the little things that generate offense as well as being a defensive stud which has become the norm with Melton. He came out aggressive as usual & though he struggled to score 10 points going 3-11 from the field, make no mistake, Melton was easily one of THE best players on the court in tonight's win.
Josh Jackson brings a lot of energy & aggressive play on the court & he continued on that this evening. He didn't have the best shooting night but gave Memphis a sample platter game with a very efficient +/- to match his versatile production this game. He seems to really have improved his awareness & it's beginning to show even when he doesn't shoot well. Solid game form the 3rd year young gun.
Kudos to the Taylor Jenkins coaching regime as they made great adjustments on the fly considering the circumstances of the trade deadline looming over the young guys heads, not to mention the Iggy saga over the last 48 hours or so. Even if you aren't in trade rumors, it's gotta be hard hearing your buddies names being mentioned in talks & even seeing two of your veterans get pulled from the lineup last minute due to advanced discussions. Jenkins kept his young troops poised, worked best with what he had & took care of a much needed division win in Dallas. He gave guys like Josh a chance to prove their worth & he made good on Jenkins taking such a chance.