Let’s just say my prediction for last night didn’t go very well.
Bet your house and lifesavings on Jazz -10.5 at home against Memphis tonight. It’s going to be a bloodbath. @OldTakesExposed— Nathan Chester (@NathanChester24) November 22, 2021
The jury is still very much out on whether the Memphis Grizzlies are “good”. They’ve had entirely too many blowout losses so far this year to make any proclamations about the future.
But on nights like last night where the Grizzlies rallied to beat one of the best teams in the league in the Utah Jazz just two nights after a humiliating loss...you feel like the Finals are in play. That’s obviously not the case for this iteration of the Grizzlies, but you’ll enjoy the exhilarating good just as much as you despise the horrific bad.
Let’s look at some report card grades.
Jaren Jackson Jr: A, 26 points, 9-19 shooting, 4-11 from three, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, -2
Ah yes, Jaren Jackson Jr., the man of the hour.
This was the first game all season that Jaren truly put it all together on both ends of the court, giving everyone a tantalizing taste of the player that he could become. He showcased everything in the toolkit, as he attacked Rudy Gobert from the perimeter, abused mismatches with Royce O’Neale inside the paint, splashed some threes, and was superb defensively (him stealing the ball from Donovan Mitchell with less than 2 minutes to go in an isolation situation made my heart flutter).
I, of course, have been hard on Jaren this year and deservedly so (Site Manager’s Note - debatable). The Grizzlies need more consistency out of him in his 4th year in the league. But even my cold dead heart (Site Manager’s Note - undebatable) was moved by what I saw last night.
Ja Morant: A-, 32 points, 9-30 shooting, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, +1
It really says something about how much of a generational talent Morant is that 32 points and 7 assists in an amazing win isn’t enough to earn him an A+.
He struggled with his shot for much of the night, but he just kept on coming, putting constant pressure on the Jazz which led to easy looks for his teammates. His defense was...the usual (he spent WAY too much time guarding Donovan Mitchell), but he still managed to get into passing lanes and create transition opportunities.
Oh, and he’s now the only Grizzly since the franchise moved to Memphis to take 30 shots in a game. He obviously wanted this one.
Desmond Bane: A+, 28 points, 12-20 shooting, 4-8 from three, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, +15
If the short-handed Grizzlies were going to beat the Jazz on the road, someone outside of Ja Morant was going to have to step up. And that turned out to be true, as the Grizzlies needed every single bit of Desmond Bane’s best NBA game to get the victory.
He was phenomenal in every way. He consistently made big shots to quell Jazz runs all while playing fairly solid defense on Donovan Mitchell. He demonstrated how far he’s come as a playmaker with the ball in his hands.
He’s a gamer.
- Brandon Clarke, A-: He was quietly impactful, totaling 10 points and 9 huge rebounds. His offensive rebounding was instrumental in the 4th quarter.
- Ziaire Williams, A: He’s getting graded on a curve, but he may have had his best game as a pro. He played 29 minutes and finished with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and an assist. His defense as highly impressive, and it was why he finished the game in crunch time.