The Grizzlies came off their huge statement win against the Lakers on Saturday night and followed it up with an absolute beat down against the Hawks on Monday 127-88. Being a Atlanta resident, I was lucky enough to attend the game at State Farm Arena to see the Grizzlies take the floor and pull off a big time win over a struggling Hawks team.
The game started out quite sloppy with missed dunks and turnovers on both sides. The Grizzlies started out 0-11 shooting in this game which made for an awkward first 15 minutes of real time in the arena. It was probably the only highlight the Hawks had all night being up on the Grizzlies early. Then, after the Grizzlies clawed their way back into the game, they never looked back taking over the game. Memphis ended the game shooting 50.0% from the field which is pretty impressive after starting off the game 0-for-11. After that start, the Grizzlies shot 56.8% from the field. The best part of this offensive output was that it was a complete team performance. Almost every Grizzly who played scored and no one played more than 26 minutes. A perfect balanced win on the road.
While the Grizzlies got going offensively, the Hawks most definitely did not. They ended the game only shooting a season low 32.3% from the field and 25.7% from three. It was an abysmal performance from them really showing the lack of depth the team has. Trae Young will get the Hawks crowd going, but there is no one else that can score in bunches like he can. He finished the night with 19 points of his own, but there was no one else who came to play. Occasionally, it is John Collins or Kevin Huerter, but in this one no one stepped up.
Memphis did their job to protect their 8-seed in a game they should win. Now, that they have put themselves in this situation, games like these are must-wins. They have the pressure now of not slipping up to inferior competition. Monday night, they recovered in the first quarter, led by three at halftime, and then the Grizzlies pulled away in the third quarter led by the bench scoring at crucial parts in this game.
Now, here are the grades:
Ja Morant- B+
This contest was a facilitating performance for Ja Morant. He does not always have to impact the game in the box score to dominate a game. He finished with 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. It was an average night, but his biggest impact came to start the second half where he gave a spark to the offense and then they never turned back. It was a delight watching Ja Morant in person for the first time.
You can see that the offense still depends on Morant even if he isn’t scoring. Everyone expects him to have nights like the ones against the Lakers, but this was a night that mean the most. A sloppy, struggle of a first half needing Morant to guide them on their way. He did just that and was rewarded by sitting the whole fourth quarter.
DeAnthony Melton- B
Melton had a tough night. He did not shoot the ball well and had a few too many turnovers in the first half. He ended his night with only 11 points, but again, Melton is a player that needs to be graded outside of his box score. He played some big minutes with the other bench scorers in this one that gave the Grizzlies the boost. Two times in the second quarter and third quarter it was Tyus Jones and DeAnthony Melton leading the Grizzlies on a run. Tough individual night but was alongside to major scoring sprees.
Dillon Brooks- B-
Dillon Brooks had a very tough game Monday night. He tried very hard to get going offensively. He shot the ball 17 times but only connected on 5 of those attempts. He just did not have it on one of his cold nights. Since he has gotten the confidence this year, Brooks has been a hot and cold shooter most of this season. There was not much to say about his game as even with the poor shooting nights he made some blunders with turnovers and some on defense as well. His team still won by 39 points, so not all is lost.
Kyle Anderson- B-
If you look at just the starters box score from this game, you would think the Grizzlies would have lost. Even in the arena, it never felt like the Grizzlies were playing that much better than the Hawks. It was a strange game with all of the turnovers and missed opportunities which Kyle Anderson was a part of. He shot 1-for-7 all night and only had 3 points. He grabbed 7 rebounds, but he never really had it going any of this game.
Jonas Valanciunas- A
In the quarter of this game, Valanciunas was on pace to get about 50 rebounds. He was easily grabbing every missed shot around him, and John Collins was no where to be found on the glass. Also, Bruno Fernando did not stand a chance. JV finished the night with 15 points and 15 rebounds. A very solid night that could have been even better if the Grizzlies needed him. Luckily, they did not, and JV rested all of the fourth quarter as well.
The Bench- A++++
The winners of this game was the bench unit for the Grizzlies. At a few times throughout the night, the bench checked in and impacted the game more than the starters did. Josh Jackson looked like a real NBA talent. Missed dunk aside, he was attacking and handling himself with more poise and confidence than I have ever seen from him. Gorgui Dieng took over when Valanciunas checked out and was the leading scorer of the night with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Both big men can thank Fernando for their performances as he was very very bad most of the night. This bench unit will have to keep this up and build confidence off of games like this one.
The Grizzlies head north to Brooklyn and face the Nets on Wednesday night. They will look to continue their win streak and build off this recent success.