After winning three straight games by a total margin of 95 combined points, the Grizzlies went into Friday night in an uphill battle with a Dallas Mavericks team boasting their two best players in Luka Doncic who has turned into a daily dominant performance along with the 7’3 unicorn known as Kristaps Porzingis. Meanwhile the Grizzlies came in missing three of their core players & looking to defend home court vs a higher seeded conference rival also fighting for better playoff positioning in the western conference. Not to mention many saw this as the Ja Morant vs Luka Doncic duel.
Despite the fact Dillon Brooks finished the first quarter with a strong 13 point outburst, & the Grizzlies having the lead in the second quarter, they found themselves trailing 61-49 at halftime thanks to a heat check from three-point land by Kristaps Porzingis. The Grizzlies got caught lacking defense in these NBA streets all night & clearly missed the defensive versatility & rim protection of Brandon Clarke & Jaren Jackson Jr. One can also say this was a game Justice Winslow would have been huge as well due to his versatility, although he has yet to make his Grizzlies debut.
On to grades!
Ja Morant- Looking at Ja’s raw stat line for the night doesn’t seem so bad until you get to the turnovers. He had 11 points 8 assists & 4 rebounds but anyone who saw even clips of the game know better. The Ja starting five came out the gate committing three straight turnovers by the time the score was only 11-6 forcing Coach Taylor Jenkins to call an early timeout. Ja had a very sloppy performance to say the least finishing the game with 6 turnovers, while shooting only 4-11 from the field. Let’s just say it was one of his more forgettable performances.
Dillon came out hot as a six shooter in the first quarter. He scored 13 of his 15 points in the opening quarter & looked to be on pace for a career evening but sputtered out the rest of the way & didn’t provide nearly the consistency one needs from arguably their second or third scoring option with Jaren out due to injury. Dallas figured out the perfect zone schemes to force Dillon into tough shots. Dillon has to learn how to get smart buckets when the shots aren’t falling & he can really use some ball handling development this summer along with adding a post game to take advantage of his build & aggression. Grade- C+
“Slow Mo” does slo mo things & his 6 points on 2-5 shooting along with a scrappy 6 rebounds & 2 assists is exactly what I mean. He gives you a small sampler platter of it all, including great defense but often times this season not enough of a sampler platter to make a huge impact. His inability to shoot is one thing but at least he helped stopped Luka from clowning us totally by limiting him to only 21 points. Not terrible but definitely not a game changer showing from the UCLA alum.
De’Anthony Melton- 14 minutes of action & nearly didn’t register on the stat sheet & Jenkins decides to go with the warmer hands on the wing on this evening. Grade- F
Jonas has the only double double of the evening for the home team grabbing 11 rebounds while scoring an efficient 14 points on 7-8 shooting. However his performance was no game changer as his post based play looked obsolete in a game where Dallas jacked up 95 shots of which 47 were three-point attempts. His defense is suspect in perimeter based games & he clearly wasn’t built for this affair. Therefore his game was nearly unnoticed & thus not deserving of a high grade despite what many would think reading raw stats. Grade B-
The bench was the best part of the Grizzlies roster this game & almost every bench player made the most of their time spent on the floor, they just didn’t have enough time or juice to make up such a huge deficit created by the starting lineups lack of defense. Tyus Jones was a catalyst in his 20 minutes scoring 9 points & dropping 7 dimes. If only he played more early on. Tyus’ Grade- B
Josh Jackson had another strong showing despite it being wasted in a blowout defeat. Josh had 16 points in only 21 minutes on the evening & on the pace he’s been playing, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear his name come up for possible starts especially with his length & the Grizzlies missing size & versatility that of which Josh Jackson helps compensate for the temporary loss.
Josh has learned to use his energy, size, & aggressive approach to find scrap buckets even when his number isn’t called for a play. He may not have carried them to a win tonight but he definitely furthered his case to be retained by Memphis this summer in what has become a very unexpected turn of events for Josh. Grade- B+
Anthony Tolliver had a solid 8 points in 21 minutes which would normally be more than enough from such a player. However this game was the exception to that theory.
John Konchar the house brand’s Glue Guy had 6 points in his limited 16 minutes & showed flashes of potential to become a solid “Do it Saul” type of Guard-Forward with more development & added beef to make his style of play even more impactful.
Coaching- Jenkins looked to stop the leak early as he immediately called for a stoppage of play when he saw his team come out struggling on offense early when his teams have become known for striking hot early if nothing else. This game can be chalked up as a not too bad loss but it’s hard to say that when it’s to a division rival while Memphis is still in the fight of it’s life for playoff positioning in this last 40 day stretch. Taylor could have made adjustments to the lineups sooner aside from pulling Melton but it’s hard to blame him in a game the Grizzlies were short three of it’s young core players.
He still needs to make adjustments as his starting lineup was a floor spacing nightmare & his stubbornness to adjust Kyle’s role kinda cost them this game. Not to mention Kyle still didn’t help much with his main serving purpose which is defense. Grade- D
Next game up is versus Atlanta in the season series finale, so here’s to Beating the Hawks instead of eating crow.