So close, yet so far.
The Memphis Grizzlies failed in their comeback efforts, and the San Antonio Spurs never die. Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, and Grayson Allen made big shots in the fourth quarter. However, the mid-range brilliance of DeMar DeRozan — and whatever Dillon Brooks was doing — stopped the Grizzlies from extending their lead for the 8th seed.
There were plenty of adjustments for the Grizzlies to take this one. Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. could’ve had more first-half looks. Dillon Brooks could’ve found his game within the offense. The Grizzlies could’ve taken advantage of the Spurs’ size, or lack thereof, and running the offense through Jackson, Jonas Valanciunas, and Brandon Clarke.
However, it wasn’t enough, and the Grizzlies dropped their second straight game. Let’s give out some grades.
Grayson Allen: 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 5-9 shooting from the field (3-6 from deep), +4
Grayson Allen kept this team in the game.
The Grizzlies’ bench couldn’t get anything, but Allen’s steadiness kept the team afloat. He does a great job of playing within the offense and his own limits, which results in him not forcing anything.
Offensively, he ran lanes well and collected himself in transition to fire from beyond the arc. Defensively, he simply works his tail off to at least be a neutral defender, despite his physical limitations.
Given his performance in this game, and throughout the bubble Allen’s won over a lot of people, garnering starter recognition. Fantastic for a player whose season was originally lost due to a nasty hip injury.
Grayson Allen made the three and Joey Magnifico caught the ball.— Jessica Benson (@jessbensontv) August 2, 2020
Jaren Jackson Jr. - 21 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 8-13 shooting (2-5 from 3), +4; Ja Morant - 25 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 10-18 shooting, +1
I’m lumping these two guys together here, because I have the same message: they need more shot attempts. You’ll rush to the comments to say that Dillon Brooks stole those shots from them, but the two franchise cornerstones need to demand the ball in their hands, and they need to look for more scoring opportunities throughout the game.
When they had that “attack” mentality, both players were unstoppable. Once Ja caught his defender and either Jakob Poetl or Drew Eubanks in the pick-and-roll, he feasted inside. He was also doing that against Derrick White and Dejounte Murray, two guys that are regarded as two of the league’s best perimeter defenders. Jaren Jackson Jr. also looked like a big guard, getting to the rim with an array of handles, despite having a perimeter player on him at all times. If they’re generating these kind of numbers on this level of volume, imagine what they could’ve done with 18-23 each shots in this one.
Regardless, it’s truly marvelous to see the franchise’s 20-year old cornerstones ball out in big, playoff-level games. This is huge for their development, and that’s the goal for this season.
Glass half full thinking:— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) August 2, 2020
The Grizzlies have gotten back-to-back 20+ point performances from Jaren and Ja. In playoff type situations, having your young stars already show up and show out is huge for this team's development
Dillon Brooks: 16 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 7-20 shooting from the field (1-7 from 3)
It’s a bad Dillon Brooks game for me to say this:
This may be the worst Dillon Brooks game I've ever seen— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) August 2, 2020
He forced the issue offensively. His decision-making threw the system out of wack and taking shots away from Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. He continued to foul at a high rate, and that last one ultimately cost the Grizzlies the game.
It just was not pretty to watch.
Dillon Brooks will progress to the mean, but bottom-line, he needs to play within himself. He shows, at times, the capability to do so as a spot-up shooter and a downhill driver. He’s also the only one, aside of Ja and Jaren, that can get his own shot, and that value is unrecognized within the fanbase. He’ll be fine, but he needs to adjust his game and find his teammates throughout the remainder of the bubble.
- Jonas Valanciunas (C+): Valanciunas should’ve had more looks inside. He had Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks on him. Granted, the Spurs defense collapsed a lot, since the Grizzlies didn’t have any punishers from outside. However, this game seemed like a prime one for Valanciunas to ball. Bright side, another double-double — like clockwork.
- De’Anthony Melton (D-): Melton wasn’t impactful in this game. He picked up 5 fouls in 14 minutes and didn't do anything to help the offense. Expect a bounce-back game from him though.
- Kyle Anderson (B+): Anderson should’ve taken more minutes in this one. He connected on 2 of his 4 triples, and he finished with 8 assists. That kind of secondary facilitation is massive with Tyus Jones out, and he should’ve been in Brooks’ spot during crunch time.
Quick turnaround here though, as the Memphis Grizzlies take on the national-darling New Orleans Pelicans today at 5:30 PM CST. Let’s get this dub.