The circumstances were huge but the objective was simple: Win and you are in. Thankfully, the Grizzlies appeared fresh and focused on the task at hand.
Memphis got off to an 11-2 lead in the first four minutes thanks to a 3-4 start from Dillon Brooks, who was finding looks and making good decisions. Jonas Valanciunas also was making his shots, and Memphis looked in a groove early. For much of the rest of the first quarter, the Grizzlies were finding good looks, but shots would not fall. The Bucks were also struggling, but started to convert shots at the end of the quarter. The Grizzlies remained ahead, but the lead was now down to one, 22-21.
Things began to get a little more fast paced in the second quarter as the Grizzlies scored as many points in the first six minutes of the second as they did the entire first quarter. Both Brooks and Valanciunas continued producing, while Anthony Tolliver and Kyle Anderson connected on good looks from three to give the Grizzlies an eight point lead through the first eight minutes of the second quarter.
Memphis was far more successful on its looks early, shooting 47% on their first 45 shots, a stark contrast from the contest against Boston. Milwaukee made sure to keep things close. Within thirty seconds of Memphis going up by eight, Milwaukee cut it to three. However, the Grizzlies found consistent success getting to the lane and the rim, as they outscored the Bucks 12-5 to end the quarter, with plenty of good possessions directed by Ja Morant.
The Grizzlies went into halftime up 60-50. They shot 50% from the field, with Morant, Valanciunas, and Brooks all scoring 10 or more points. Along with only six turnovers, there were far less wasted possessions than many of their previous games, and the Grizzlies took advantage early and often.
The Grizzlies continued to find success via Brooks, Tolliver, and Valanciunas early in the third quarter. Brooks especially continued to shine, with three three pointers and ten total points to extend the Grizzlies’ lead to as high as 17 points four minutes into the third quarter.
The Grizzlies success continued in the 3rd with good looks in the lane and excellent defensive possessions. Brooks ended the quarter with 14, and extended his game high total to 27. The Grizzlies outscored the Bucks 33-24, and Memphis entered the fourth quarter with a 93-74 lead.
Memphis continued to find success through Valanciunas in the fourth. And this time, a bit of history was involved. Valanciunas earned his first career triple double, and only the 19th in Grizzlies history. A big day for the big man. The Grizzlies continued to find success both at the rim and from three. Kyle Anderson became the fourth Grizzlies starter with multiple threes, and Memphis extended its lead to 18 with six minutes left.
With Valanciunas setting history, Morant decided he wanted to join the club. Morant also successfully achieved a triple double. The second in his career, Morant became the 20th player to do it in franchise history. He and Valanciunas also became the first Grizzlies teammates to do it in the same game. Memphis would make sure to not let history get in the way of the win, and the Grizzlies held on to the game with a 119-106 victory.
A thorough team win and perhaps their best game in the bubble, Memphis rose to the occasion and made a statement with their win. While Morant and Valanciunas made history, it could not have been done without Brooks. 31 points, his fifth career game with thirty or more points, and smart decisions showed that when he is on, the Grizzlies are very good.
A big victory that both made history and extended the season. Grizzlies basketball is still alive and ready to thrive!
The Grizzlies win secured a spot in the play-in tournament with game 1 scheduled for 1:30 PM CT on Saturday. Grizz Nation will have to wait until after tonight’s Trail Blazers/Nets game to figure out who they’ll be playing.