You win some, and you lose some.
Coming down this home stretch, it was easy to write off the Orlando Magic, as they’re an Eastern Conference bubble team that sat 6 games below .500 coming into the game. Nonetheless, they also came in winning 6 of their previous 10, while putting a beating on the Houston Rockets recently.
The Memphis Grizzlies started hot and generated buckets at will against the Magic defense. However, Coach Steve Clifford made the proper adjustments to seal the win for his team. They forced a lot of turnovers, add more pace and ball movement to their offense, and put Michael Carter-Williams — who’s massive for a guard — on Ja Morant.
It also helped that their bench had 65 points.
The Grizzlies ultimately couldn’t come away here, as they fell victim to missed free throws, turnovers, and Terrence Ross.
Jonas Valanciunas (A-): 27 points, 16 rebounds, 9-10 from the field, 9-13 from the line, 5 turnovers
Jonas Valanciunas had another stellar game down low, feasting on Nikola Vucevic and Mo Bamba at any chance he got. He also swallowed a lot of offensive rebounds for second chance buckets.
He’s excelled in that area of the game in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke’s absence, as it’s supplied an extra scoring punch alongside Ja Morant.
However, he struggled from the free throw line and turned the ball over too many times, which gives him the minus here.
Ja Morant (B): 21 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 7-15 from the field, 6-8 from the line, 5 turnovers
Ja Morant was aggressive attacking the basket and generating his own offense in this game. He drove to the goal with no hesitation, unless it was a smooth hesi from the perimeter. He also fired the 3-point shot with volume — 5 attempts.
One downside here is, he couldn’t score over Michael Carter-Williams and the Orlando big men, and he turned the ball over too many times.
Josh Jackson (A-): 17 points, 4 assists, 6-8 from the field, 2-3 from 3, 4 turnovers
Josh Jackson had another strong offensive night for the Grizzlies, as he helped regain momentum in the first offense. His scoring efficiency has been a nice development, as it was a huge gripe in Phoenix.
His limited fourth quarter action was due to foul trouble, as he tallied his 5th foul way before crunchtime.
Rest of the Team
Dillon Brooks (B) found his groove from deep, scoring 21 points on 4-7 shooting from deep, but his impact was a bit too quiet.
De’Anthony Melton (C+) couldn’t find his shot, but he did a good job rebounding and keeping possessions alive. He also led the team with assists (6).
Gorgui Dieng (B) had a quiet night, but filled the stat sheet — 5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks in 15 minutes.
Tyus Jones (C) was off the entire game, as he couldn’t get anything going from a scoring and playmaking side all game, but he came alive in the fourth and hit a big 3.
D-: John Konchar, Kyle Anderson, and Anthony Tolliver collectively share this grade, as none of them impacted the game. They were the team’s biggest negatives, which is off considering their advanced metrics are off the charts.
The Memphis Grizzlies will hit the road for a 3-game road trip, and they’ll be just fine. On to the next.