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Report Card: Grizzlies snuff out the Blazers

That was an adventure!

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but the Memphis Grizzlies are 3.5 games up in the Southwest Division and 2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers for the #4 seed in the Western Conference. If only Christmas was not 9 days away - I wish folks could give me a call now about how awesome the Grizzlies are!

#TeamCallMeAtChristmas

In all seriousness, the team is walking about as tall as you can possibly be stepping coming off another impressive victory. It was the first time in some time that they seemed to be out of sorts for longer stretches - the third quarter in particular was some of the ugliest basketball the Grizzlies have played in a few weeks. But Memphis once again found a way to win without Ja Morant, and over their last 10 games are legitimately one of the best teams in the NBA - only the Utah Jazz also boasts a 9-1 record over their last 10 contests.

Let’s get to grades.

Kyle Anderson - 13 points (4-10 shooting, 0-2 from three), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, +25 in 27 minutes)

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

This was a quintessential Kyle Anderson game.

He did not explode offensively - he was below average as a scorer in terms of efficiency, aside from making 5 of 7 free throws (and even calling that “efficient” is stretching the word). But what Kyle did do was impact winning in a variety of ways. He rounded extremely well in a game where Jaren Jackson Jr. did not (more on that later). He was disruptive defensively, playing passing lanes and picking his spots to disrupt the offensive sets and rhythm of the Blazers. So much of what Anderson did, and does in general, will not bring about numerous shout-outs in national media or on highlight reels. But what he does do is valuable to any team trying to make the playoffs.

Kyle is very good. He also makes sense as a potential trade candidate due to his expiring, relatively cheap contract and veteran presence. This space is not to say whether or not he should be moved. But he most certainly will be an interesting player to watch as the deadline approaches.

GRADE - B+

Desmond Bane - 23 points (8-13 shooting, 5-8 from three), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, +9 in 30 minutes

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Bane is tremendous. He continues to amaze and outplay his selection as the 30th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Him shooting 5-8 from three is not surprising - he has always been elite from beyond the arc, dating back to his time at TCU. The fact that he was 3-5 from inside the arc - and that almost all those scores, if not all of them, came off the dribble/finishing at the rim - is really what jumps out at you. He has seemingly gotten more explosive as an athlete, which is rare for someone his age/perceived talent level when compared to his college days. His movement to the basket is just quicker - or perhaps more confident - than it has ever been. He shows no fear.

Desmond Bane’s confidence is sky high at the moment. As it should be. He and Dillon Brooks are making quite the perimeter tandem for the Grizzlies starting lineup.

GRADE - A

QUICK GRADES-

  • Speaking of Dillon Brooks...the former Oregon Duck had an impactful game of his own. It could have been more efficient in terms of shooting (6-16 overall, 2-7 from three) but his 10 free throws (making 8) led both teams and showed his aggression at drawing contact. Couple all that with his 7 rebounds and 6 assists, and you will take this Dillon performance every night. GRADE - B+
  • Not the best evening for Jaren Jackson Jr. In arguably his worst showing of this run without Ja Morant, Jaren really struggled on the glass (only 2 rebounds is unacceptable, regardless of match-up) and he attempted more shots (13) than he scored points (9) without making a single three. His 2 blocks were good to see, as he retains value of course when his offense is not thriving. But when he isn’t scoring, and not helping on the boards, his impact is limited. GRADE - D
  • John Konchar? John Konchar! An end-of-rotation undrafted wing having this level of performance for a team that has postseason hopes seems unlikely. But here we are - Konchar is one of the better rebounding wings in the entire NBA and just seems to make the right play for the good of the Grizzlies more often than not. Grizzlies TV analyst Brevin Knight recently said that this Grizzlies roster is the best 1-17 (including two-way players like Killian Tillie) in the NBA. Konchar makes him look smart. GRADE- A

Memphis is back in action on Friday night in Sacramento as they take on the Kings.

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