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Report Card: Grizzlies fall to defending champ Lakers

LeBron James takes over in Marc Gasol’s return to Memphis

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LA Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Black and teal uniforms, a giant grizzly bear at mid-court, a Gasol on the court and a double-digit loss to the LA Lakers. It felt like 2001, but it is in fact 2021. The other thing Sunday’s loss has in common with the Grizzlies from 20 years ago – hope from fans and glimpses of a bright future.

The young and undermanned Grizzlies did their best to try and spoil Marc Gasol’s return to FedExForum. But once again, LeBron James showed why he doesn’t plan on giving up the title ‘best player on the planet’ anytime soon.

Right from the tip, the game had the makings of a Lakers blowout, as they jumped out to an 11-2 lead. The Grizzlies bench, which was a weakness in the first few games, was a strength in the Grizzlies comeback, as they helped build a double-digit lead at the end of the first.

It was a back-and-forth affair until the fourth when it turned into what Pete and Brevin referred to as ‘winning time’ for LeBron James. If you’re a Grizzlies fan though, there are a lot of good things to take away from their effort tonight.

Without further ado, it’s time to hand out some grades from last night’s game.

Tyus Jones – 32 minutes played, 6-11 shooting (3-5 3PT), 14 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds

LA Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

If you look at the stat sheet, it was pretty ugly for the starting five. The one bright spot was Tyus. For the second straight game, he looked like the leader the team needs while Ja and Jaren are out with injuries. He was in control of the offense, but took on more of a scoring role than he did in the win against the Hornets.

Tyus did mention in the post-game that being able to get more shots helped him find his rhythm and that his teammates have helped him gain his confidence.

He did only have 3 assists tonight, but didn’t turn the ball over. Chances are he won’t have many more nights with that few assists, and ball security is even more important when you are asking young guys and players that don’t usually start to play big minutes.

Grade – B

Dillon Brooks – 29 minutes played, 3-15 shooting (1-6 3PT), 9 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds

LA Lakers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Oh boy, if you’re trying to entice someone to buy land on Dillon Brooks Island, this is a game that you don’t need to include in your sales pitch.

On one hand, you did see some growth from DB in the 5 assists, but for the most part, you saw the bad Dillon Brooks that draws the ire of Twitter. I’m a fan of Dillon and think sometimes he can’t do enough to satisfy those who want to jump on every mistake he makes or every missed shot he takes. But, for this game, there aren’t many positives.

The playmaking Dillon we saw in the first half (3-6 FG & 4 assists) tried to turn into the scoring DB in the second half. Unfortunately for him and the Grizzlies he went 0-9 and many times he was taking shots very early in the shot clock and not getting any of his teammates involved. At one point in the 4th, with the Grizzlies down 6, he took a 27 foot pull-up and hit nothing. That was basically the definition of Dillon’s second half.

The Grizzlies need a scorer with their top guys out, and I may sound like a broken record, but if Dillon isn’t hitting, he needs to turn back into playmaker Dillon instead of jacking up shots.

Grade: C-

Desmond Bane – 21 minutes played, 5-8 shooting (3-4 3 PT), 13 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound

If you weren’t on the ‘Start Desmond Bane Train’ that’s being conducted by Joe Mullinax before this game, I hope you are now.

The young rook from TCU showed out in his 21 minutes of action. Bane was a much-needed spark off the bench and knocked down two threes midway through the first quarter to give the Grizzlies the lead.

Sure, Bane has some work to do as a rookie, but his confidence and ability to knock down the three is something the Grizzlies need in their lineup. I thought it was a missed opportunity by Coach Jenkins in the fourth when he pulled Bane. He was one of the better players in last night’s win and provided scoring when they needed it most.

Grade: B+

You could argue the Lakers are a better team this year than the team that won it all last year, so there’s no shame in dropping last night’s game. It was a bad matchup for the Grizzlies for many reasons. The Lakers size pretty much shut down Jonas, and besides the first quarter, it was tough for the Grizzlies to score.

Some good things did come from this though. Tyus Jones is game to be the man to lead this team for short-term; the rookies, Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman, flashed promise for the future; and their defense allowed them to stay in the game and compete until the final few minutes.

Grizzlies Grade – B-

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