The loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers wasn’t pretty, let’s get that out of the way. There were coaching flaws, a stagnant offense, questionable shot selection, defensive lapses.
But the beauty of the NBA — the next day is a new day.
The Memphis Grizzlies had a chance to avenge their Thursday night loss, as they looked to complete the seasons sweep against the Brooklyn Nets. There was skepticism revolving around the game, since the Nets faced the Philadelphia 76ers last night, who had a positive COVID test (Seth Curry) during game time. Nonetheless, the game was on.
The Grizzlies started out hot, scoring 40 first-quarter points and growing a lead as large as 22. However, the Nets rallied back to take a third-quarter lead, thanks to a scorching-hot stretch from Caris LeVert. Ultimately, the Grizzlies found their composure and hung on for their first win of the season.
With that said, how did our Grizzlies grade in this one?
Brandon Clarke - 22 points (9-22 shooting, 3-7 from 3), 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, -9, 33 minutes (B)
Judging just by the box score, this doesn’t sound like an ideal Brandon Clarke game, but the eye test was extremely encouraging.
After last night’s game, Clarke stressed to the media that he wanted to find more ways to be active instead of just sitting in the corner. He did just that. He was aggressive looking for his shot, and he got a lot of looks you typically want from him, but the misses just rimmed out. Though there were a few chances he passed up, Clarke fired and capitalized on his open triples.
In addition, he flashed upside in the areas I’ve raved about since they got him — as a switchable defender and a good secondary playmaker. The 2 blocks stand out, but he also did a great job defending LeVert in isolation situations. And 5 assists? WOW, that’s content I love to see. His evolution in those areas is important for his trajectory as an elite role player.
Clarke stepped up when the team needed an additional scoring punch, and it’s going to pay dividends for his confidence whenever he returns to his super sub.
Just as we all thought — Brandon Clarke isn’t broken.
Dillon Brooks: 24 points (10-19 shooting, 2-7 from 3), 4 rebounds, +10, 28 minutes (B+)
If there’s good Dillon and bad Dillon, then this is good Old Dillon.
Brooks wasn’t the new Dillon we’ve experienced this season, as he didn’t notch a single dime in this game. However, he did do a good job of not forcing the issue on his shots. He finished the game shooting above 50 percent from the field, and he only had 1 turnover.
As a secondary playmaker, it’s going to be common for Brooks to have nights with 0-1 assists. When those nights happen though, it’s imperative that he’s still helping the team by taking efficient shots.
De’Anthony Melton: 14 points (6-10 shooting, 2-2 from deep), 5 rebounds, -6, 22 minutes (A)
Can I give Melton an A+ just for dunking on DeAndre Jordan?
DE’ANTHONY MELTON JUST POSTERIZED DEANDRE JORDAN!!— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) January 9, 2021
GNG GRIZZ FANS STAND UP pic.twitter.com/WuIvnZ0rqW
Though Melton didn’t fill up the stat sheet in true “Mr. Do Something” fashion, like Clarke, he did a great job chipping in on the offensive end when the team needed scoring. Since his return, he’s done a great job finding his way to the basket. His catch-and-shoot triple in crunch-time truly has to give every Melton stan butterflies, as that’s his primary swing skill that can elevate his ceiling.
- Tyus Jones (A): Notching a double-double (14 points and 10 assists) and 4 steals, Jones helped keep this team afloat and drove them to victory.
- Xavier Tillman (B): Tillman missed some shots around the rim, but it’s truly wonderful to see him tally multiple assists.
- Desmond Bane (B): Not the most prolific Desmond Bane game, but I’m fully convinced he doesn’t miss from 3.
- Grayson Allen (B): Probably his most composed game, Allen find his 3s in rhythm and didn’t force the issue offensively. Also finished with the 3rd highest +/- (+8)
- Gorgui Dieng (D): Dieng didn’t fill up the stat sheet as he has recently, and he finished as a team-low -10 on the floor. Probably because he didn’t get a rhythm early in the game.
- Kyle Anderson (C+): Anderson just felt like he was there on the floor tonight, but he did a good job alleviating playmaking pressure off Tyus, as he tallied 6 assists.
- Tim Frazier (B+): He’s on a curve since it’s his first game in the system, but he didn’t do anything to harm the team. He finished with 4 points and 3 assists in 10 minutes, which is pretty productive if you ask me.
- Jonas Valanciunas (A): Valanciunas was impactful when he played, finishing with a +16 and corralling 8 points and 4 rebounds in just 14 minutes. However, he had to leave the game early for health and safety protocols — no positive COVID test. Hope everything is good on his end.
Make sure you tune in on Monday as the Grizzlies hope to get payback on the Cavaliers in Cleveland.