Dillon Brooks and company attempted to finish off their inauspicious homestand with a win against the defanged Nets. Here’s how Memphis fared in the outing before their week-long road trip:
It’s an open secret that Brandon Clarke has had a rocky beginning to 2020-21, but he looked like the Clarke of old to start this one— the Gonzaga product was playing at the top of his game. By the three and a half minute mark, Brandon scored 12 points on an accurate 5-for-8 shooting from the field. His baskets included a pair of triples, two floaters in the paint, and an alley-oop slam.
As for the opposition, Caris LeVert led the way for the Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant-less Brooklyn Nets in the early going. He matched Clarke’s awesome first quarter scoring output of 12 points and utilized his prolific shot creating ability to score at all three levels.
Memphis reached a season-high for points in a quarter with 40 behind sizzling shooting from deep— the team converted six of their nine three-pointers. The Grizzlies held a 12-point advantage at the end of one, 40-28.
Tim Frazier, the journeyman floor general who Memphis picked up earlier this week, made his presence felt during his Grizzlies debut in the second; Frazier netted four points across the first four minutes and change of the quarter.
The Grizzlies also ramped up their defensive effort heading into halftime. The Beale Street Bears were noticeably more connected and focused on defense in the second compared to the first — players were making multiple efforts and neutralizing the Nets’ switch-heavy offensive attack. Memphis forced six Brooklyn blunders in the period, which resulted in 12 Grizzlies points.
The Nets ended the first half on a 7-0 run, but still found themselves in a 15-point hole at the break, as Memphis led Brooklyn 62-47 with 24 minutes in the books.
Strange “run” at the free throw line aside for Brooklyn, you can’t ask much more from the Memphis Grizzlies as they are currently constructed than what you got in that half. Good energy, good execution for most of the half, and an edge/confidence that was lacking last night.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 9, 2021
Shortly before the third commenced, it was announced that Jonas Valanciunas would not return to this game due to health and safety concerns, although the reason is supposedly not coronavirus-related.
Brooklyn came into the second half with a newfound swagger and confidence on the offensive end. The wings of the Nets were beginning to find their rhythm from the three-point line — Jeff Green, Taurean Prince, and Caris LeVert all made treys to cut into Memphis’ lead. Conversely, stagnation marred Memphis’ offense, and Brooklyn slowly but surely creeped their way back in the game.
LeVert put on a show and torched the Grizzlies for 19 points in third quarter, including five long balls. His performance allowed Brooklyn to usurp the lead for a moment, but the Grizzlies closed the quarter in respectable fashion and as a result were up six entering the final frame.
Good last two minutes there for Memphis to retake the lead. You can’t let LeVert beat you in the 4th. Switches and rotations have to start and end with him. If Taurean Prince beats you, so be it— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) January 9, 2021
The final 12 minutes were a prime example of what is called a see-saw affair — both sides took turns exchanging the lead. Landry Shamet knocked down two huge threes for Brooklyn midway through the quarter after the Grizzlies were starting to generate momentum. This one was tied at 104 a piece with less than four minutes to play. But the Grizzlies responded in a major way once the two teams were deadlocked — Memphis rallied off a 7-0 run to take a comfortable 111-104 lead and, more importantly, seal a 115-110 victory.
Brandon Clarke was the hero of the game for Memphis; he stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists. Dillon Brooks was a major factor in this win as well, scoring 24 points in just 28 minutes.
The Grizzlies will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, a game that marks the beginning of a three-game stretch away from FedExForum for Memphis.