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Report Card: Big bench energy on point in Grizzlies win over Nuggets

The Grizzlies bench comes alive in big win over conference foe.

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Denver Nuggets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies came into last night’s game looking to avenge Saturday’s blowout loss to the Miami Heat.

On deck? Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

What a great challenge for them over the past 2 weeks to start the season, which our Site Manager Joe Mullinax sums up perfectly:

The Memphis Grizzlies responded quite well, as they really controlled the majority of the game, and got solid contributions across the board in a win against another Western Conference playoff contender.

Onto some grades.

Denver Nuggets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Tyus Jones: 17 points (6-9 shooting, 5-7 from 3), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, +/- of +7 (Grade: A+)

The distinction of “A+” for Mr. Stones. Last night was honestly one of his best games as a Grizzly.

The bench really needed a spark after a lackluster start to the season, and the floor general did that. The outside shot was on point, and his confidence was noticeable popping out on the floor. On his way to 5 three’s, Jones lacked any sort of hesitation on his 3-pointers. It all just really opened up the rest of his game. He looked lively off the dribble and kept the offense humming with his downhill attack and his knack for getting teammates involved.

Though he won’t be this exact Tyus Jones every night it’s important for him to remain this confident and aggressive, looking for that balance of selfishness and unselfishness. When he gets the outside shot going, it allows the bench unit to tap into the playmaking expertise across the floor, while deploying another good shooter ready to fire when the defense scrambles.

All in all, it was just an outstanding game from Tyus Jones.

Denver Nuggets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Xavier Tillman: 12 points (5-7 shooting), 5 rebounds, 1 steal, +/- of +7 (Grade: B+)

Xavier Tillman did a really good job operating as a center-of-the-floor hub on both ends of the floor.

Offensively, he helped keep the ball moving within the flow of the offense while also using ball fakes to scramble the defense a bit. He also made timely dives down to the basket when his teammates were driving towards the basket — making himself a good safety net whenever the defense collapses. He had been struggling to get things going offensively, so this was a welcoming sign.

Defensively, Tillman was a good anchor that played up on ball screens and defended well in space. He held his own on Nikola Jokic, though there was one sequence where he stuck on the MVP the entire play then he just flipped a layup in at the shot-clock buzzer.

Nonetheless, it was Tillman’s best night of the season, and his presence was felt on both sides of the ball.

Denver Nuggets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Quick Grades

  • Ja Morant continued All-Star campaign. Morant kept his foot on the gas on his way to a 26/8/7 stat-line, and he honestly could’ve doubled his assist total if shots fell down or passes were corraled. He displayed excellent poise in the final moments too, helping hold off the Nuggets from making a run in the crunchtime. (Grade: B+)
  • Ziaire Williams cold shooting. Ziaire Williams did not have a great shooting night, going 2-11 from the field and missing a handful of open shots. In postgame, Taylor Jenkins and Ja Morant encouraged him to keep shooting. Though the shots weren’t falling, I’m still in a believer in his mechanics. I also liked the intangibles he brought as a ball-mover, defender, and rebounder. Shots will come. (Grade: C)
  • Jaren Jackson’s mixed bag. Jaren Jackson Jr. came out blazing with three first-quarter 3’s. Unfortunately, foul trouble limited him to just 18 minutes. It was still encouraging to see his outside shot fall, as well as the concerted effort to get Jackson involed in the offense. (Grade: C)
  • Kyle Anderson doing everything. Kyle Anderson’s shot wasn’t falling, though he made really smooth mid-range bunnies in the 4th quarter through good pick-and-roll navigation. He was a big factor on the glass as well, leading the team with 9 rebounds. (Grade: B)

Tune in on Wednesday night in a home rematch against these two teams.

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