Let’s be honest, Saturday night was not as much about the Grizzlies on the court, as it was about one of, if not the greatest Grizzly of all time Zach Randolph. This GNG (GRZ NXT GEN) version of the Grizzlies won in a fashion that I’m sure made ’50 for Da City’ smile. No, not with grit and grind, but by pulling out a tight one down the stretch.
While the Grizzlies did walk away with the win, it did get too close for comfort. The Rockets were able to cut it to 5 in the 4th quarter after the Grizzlies had a 16-point advantage at halftime. But, missed free throws and at times a stagnant offense allowed the Rockets to inch their way back into the game.
Don’t get me wrong, the Rockets were one of the hottest teams in the league coming into the game; and the win is an impressive one as the Grizz were without both Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant, while losing a third starter, Steven Adams, in the third quarter. It just felt the sweat wasn’t needed.
Now, it’s time to hand out some grades:
Kyle Anderson – 16 points (5-6 FG, 6-14 FT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block – B
‘Slo-Mo’ getting the start in place of Jaren Jackson Jr., and he did nearly everything the Grizzlies needed him to do and more. The definition of a stat-stuffer. The one thing he didn’t do well – shoot free throws, as he was 42%.
It also seems that Kyle has a little more juice in him when he starts, as was apparent with the quick start and the hustle play in the 2nd quarter when he got the rebound and put back after a missed free throw. It’s hard to be too critical of Kyle, because of all the good he did on the court, but the missed free throws did become more glaring as the Rockets attempted their comeback. Chances are, Kyle won’t have another night like this from the charity stripe, as he shoots nearly 80% on the season.
Dillon Brooks – 25 points (7-17 FG, 9-10 FT), 0 rebounds, 2 assists – B+
DB BACK WITH SOME FORCE YA HEAR ME ♂️ pic.twitter.com/aJmE3db2bF— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) December 12, 2021
One man that did not have a problem from the free throw line is Dillon. Brooks led the Grizzlies with 25 points and hit some key free throws down the stretch. So, why the same grade as Kyle? Well, while Kyle filled up the stat sheet, Dillon did the exact opposite. He was pretty much a scorer and a stopper. While that’s not the worst thing in the world, you would like to see a little bit more on the glass, especially since the team lost Steven Adams midway through the third.
Killian Tillie – 12 points (4-6 FG, 3-5 3PT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal – A
Go ahead and make this man a full-time part of the Grizzlies roster. I was very impressed with Tillie in his minutes against the Lakers. But, he showed out even more in the win over Houston. While Tillie did set a season high in points with 12, the most important stat may be the one steal. Houston had cut the lead to seven with about four minutes to go; the steal led to a Tyus Jones three, which basically took the wind out of Houston’s sails.
Desmond Bane – 19 points (7-18 FG, 3-9 3PT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal – B+
It was a tale of two halves for Bane. He came out on fire, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the first quarter. He cooled off big time in the second half going 2-10, including 0-4 from three. I didn’t notice anything wrong, his shot just wasn’t falling. Bane has made a habit of starting off well, but this is the first time since his early season slump where I didn’t think every time he released the ball it was going in. Bane’s first quarter performance helped the Grizz jump all over the Rockets early on, so his cold shooting second half didn’t hurt them too much. I expect a bounce back Monday night.
Final Grade: A-
As I mentioned in the open, it’s impressive anytime you can get a win with both Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. out of the lineup. The free throw shooting was a bit worrisome as the Rockets creeped back in the game, after it looked as if the Grizzlies were in complete control in the first 24 minutes.
This win is also a testament to how far the defense has come. If this game was earlier in the season, it’s possible Houston would have won. That’s because the Grizzlies did a good job of closing out on the perimeter against a team that relies on the three-point shot.
The big men for the Memphis Grizzlies also did good work down low. Steven Adams was well on his way to another double-digit rebounding effort, while Xavier Tillman always found himself in the right place at the right time and delivered some thunderous dunks as well.