It’s a special night in FedExForum. Memphis Grizzlies legend Zach Randolph is having his jersey retired, becoming the first player to have his jersey retired and in the rafters of the Grindhouse.
You could just feel a different vibe and energy in the arena.
Unfortunately, Jaren Jackson Jr. was a late-scratch due to knee soreness — though Taylor Jenkins said it was nothing serious, and that it was more of a precaution given the abundance of games in this stretch. So once again, players had to elevate their games to supplant Ja Morant, Jackson, and Brandon Clarke.
The Grizzlies started out in an offensive flurry, scoring 21 points in the 1st quarter and a half. In addition, they hopped out to a quick 11-1 lead that gave them good separation from the Houston Rockets to start the quarter. They did a great job of forcing turnovers and stopping the Rockets’ defense.
The Grizzlies, spearheaded from the brilliant offensive production from Desmond Bane (13 points) and Dillon Brooks (9 points), jumped out to a 40-point first quarter outing with a 40-29 lead.
I’ll start off my 2nd quarter by telling the readers know that X gave it to ‘em — and I mean, Xavier Tillman gave the crowd a monster dunk by postering Alperen Sengun.
XAVIER TILLMAN SHEESH pic.twitter.com/OVgc3iAsdQ— Bally Sports: Grizzlies (@GrizzOnBally) December 12, 2021
The Grizzlies continued to push out their lead, closing the half with a 16-point lead. Their rotations and shifts continued to look sharp on the defensive end of the floor. Kyle Anderson also played his best offensive half of the season, attacking the rim and staying aggressive on the glass as well.
The offense didn’t start out too hot in the 3rd quarter, as the Grizzlies only totaled 9 points in the 1st 7 minutes of the period. Xavier Tillman caught yet another body, dunking on Daniel Theis this time.
The Grizzlies closed the quarter with a 86-77 lead.
Going into the 4th quarter, some free misfortune and the play of Alperen Sengun cut the Grizzlies’ lead down to 6 with roughly 7 minutes left. As the Rockets cut the lead down to 5, after a Josh Christopher putback slam, the Grizzlies answered with a massive corner 3 from Killian Tillie.
After some “stop the clock” / “hack a ___” dealio towards the end, the Grizzlies finished with a 113-106 win.
- Killian Tillie is one of the better two-way contract players in the league. Killian Tillie has gotten some run here, as the Grizzlies have a slew of inactive players right now, and he’s making the most of it. He hit 3 three’s, including a massive corner 3 in the 4th quarter. He made good defensive plays too, and he’s a good connective passer. It wouldn’t be surprising if he gets a main-roster spot soon.
- No Steven Adams, no Brandon Clarke, maybe no Jaren Jackson Jr. What’s next? Jackson was a late scratch, and Steven Adams left in the 3rd quarter with an ankle sprain. Maybe, Jackson returns on Monday against Philadelphia, but you wonder what’s next for them if his return is a bit prolonged. Expect a lot of Tillman minutes, but Taylor Jenkins will probably need to get a bit funky when he goes to the bench.
- Kyle Anderson, mixed bag. So the good news, Kyle Anderson had a good game. He finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals — a statline that resembled ones from his breakout season last year. Bad news, he missed 8 free throws, and Houston sought to hack him late in the game. Overall, Anderson did a good job filling in at the starter spot, and he showed a lot of good stuff on the ball and defensively. However, the free throws will be what everyone remembers.