The Grizzlies have their first losing streak of the season. They managed to lead 57-52 at the half, but everything fell apart in the third quarter as Damian Lillard (20 points and 10 assists on the night) finally came alive and began to run the Grizzlies out of the gym.
I have some thoughts.
Just a weird game
This game was just weird from the beginning. The Blazers did play zone defense periodically, but there’s really nothing too extraordinary that they did to slow the Grizzlies down.
Even as they led throughout most of the first half, the game just never felt right for lack of a better way to describe it. The Grizzlies couldn’t get anything easy in transition (just 7 fastbreak points on the night, and the Blazers generally did a pretty good job of keeping Ja Morant (17 points, 10 assists, and 9 turnovers) out of the paint. In fact, they managed to keep the Grizzlies as a whole anemic offensively, as they shot a paltry 36% from the field.
From the opening tip, the Grizzlies didn’t play with force or pace, and it eventually caught up with them.
Speaking of a lack of force or pace...
Jaren Jackson Jr. is very bad right now
Jaren’s stat-line will speak for itself on the game he had. He finished with just 7 points on 3-13 shooting along with just 2 rebounds and 5 fouls in 18 minutes. It doesn’t get any worse than that.
What’s so concerning is not the fact that he’s missing shots, but it’s why he’s missing shots. He’s a total mess inside the paint right now, mainly because his footwork is extremely poor. Most of his shots in the paint involve him just jumping into the body of his defender and throwing the ball at the basket. To be fair, the Grizzlies aren’t making much of an effort to get him easy looks inside the paint, but when you consider how much his skills have regressed in that area since his rookie season, I can’t say that I blame them.
Earlier in the night, I tweeted that Taylor Jenkins will have to be creative to properly maximize Jaren. And in response, someone asked me why he should have to be creative to get the most out of someone who’s supposedly as talented as Jaren.
It’s a fair question.
- Desmond Bane continued his hot start, finishing with 19 points on 7-12 shooting in 23 minutes. He would leave the game early, however, after taking an elbow to the head from Larry Nance Jr.
- De’Anthony Melton came crashing back down to earth so hard that he could have killed the ghosts of the dinosaurs. He didn’t score a single point in 25 minutes and looked a lot more like he did in his first year in Memphis rather than how he has through the first few games.
The Grizzlies will have a quick turnaround and will play at Golden State tomorrow night.