The Memphis Grizzlies stay hot with a team win Friday night over the Sacramento Kings, 124-105. First off, I was surprised this game was even played. The Kings were severely short handed due to several players and their Head Coach Alvin Gentry being placed into the NBA health and safety protocols.
Sacramento, only playing 8 guys double-digit minutes, jumped on the Grizzlies early, building a 15-point lead in the first half. It appeared the Grizzlies were somewhat sleepwalking through the game. So much so, that Ja Morant tweeted in the middle of the second ‘let’s hoop man. playin wit our food.’ Even with Ja not traveling with the team, it seemed like they got the message, and immediately erased the deficit to grab a lead before the half.
alright now, lets hoop man . playing wit our food— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) December 18, 2021
The second half was all Grizzlies, with everybody getting in on the action – 10 Grizzlies scored, 5 in double digits. The win is the Grizzlies’ fifth in a row and 10th in its last 11.
Now, we hand out some grades.
Desmond Bane – 24 points (9-16 FG, 4-5 3PT), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal – A
The ‘Bane Train’ keeps rolling. Bane led the Grizzlies in scoring with 24 points – 17 of them in the second half. His hot shooting allowed the Grizzlies to build a lead and keep it out of reach in the second half.
It seems that every game, Bane’s confidence is building a little bit more. He’s not afraid to take the step back 3 if he gets just a little separation, and like the last 3 he knocked down from the side logo, if a defender give him space, he’s going to pull up and drill the shot.
This is the 6th time in the last 11 games that Bane has scored 20+ points – prior to this stretch Bane scored 20 or more in just 7 of his first 86 games of his career.
It’s quite possible the Grizzlies could have 3 of the top 5 vote getters in the Most Improved Player award voting.
Jaren Jackson Jr. – 21 points (6-15 FG, 0-3 3PT, 9-9 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 block – A
Another guy that could find his way into that MIP award race is Triple J. After struggling in Wednesday’s win over Portland and in the first half against Sacramento, Jaren came up big in the second half.
There were a lot of things I was impressed with from Jaren in the win. It looked as though he recognized the mismatch straight out the gate. He was working the ball down low, but he just wasn’t able to finish. I think at times he was anticipating contact or trying to force the contact and get to the line.
In the second half, he dominated on both ends of the court. In one sequence midway through the fourth, he was able to alter Harrison Barnes shot as he was trying to get to the bucket, and then ran the length of the court, immediately sealed off Buddy Hield, and finished at the rim. That one sequence got me so fired up and excited for the future of what JJJ is going to be when he fully reaches his potential.
But, the one thing that showed me he realizes just how impactful he can be – three 3-point attempts. Jaren knew he had the advantage down low and he focused all of his energy to exploiting that matchup. He also knew that Sacramento was short-handed. I wouldn’t be too worried that Jaren is 0-7 from deep in his last two games, but his game is evolving in front of our eyes.
DeAnthony Melton – 19 points (7-11 FG, 2-3 3PT, 3-4 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals – A+
I’m sure Sacramento is happy they aren’t facing DeAnthony Melton in their next game. ‘Mr. Do Something’ living up to his nickname in the win. He was an annoyance to the Kings, as he didn’t let them get comfortable at all. Melton was a ball hawk out there with his 4 steals.
Melton could also be credited with putting the final nail in the Kings’ coffin in the fourth with a sequence of a top of the key 3, steal, and thunderous dunk. After that, there was no coming back for Sacramento.
Team Grade: A
The slow start prevents this from being an A+. This was another on of those games, where it looks like you should win with ease. But, as they say, these are professionals, and as we have seen, nothing is a given in the NBA. Grizzlies did a fantastic job of weathering the storm and climb back into it in the second quarter.
That comeback was led by two guys I haven’t mentioned yet – Dillon Brooks and Steven Adams. The two were getting it done on both ends of the floor. Adams, just like Jaren, knew he had an advantage down low and they were short-handed. The Grizz dominated the paint, 60-36.
As far as Dillon, he finished with 23 points, with 8 coming in the second – all during a 16-2 run where the Grizzlies took the lead. DB hit a 3 to put the Grizz up 56-54 right before the half and they never trailed after that.
Up next, Sunday evening against Portland.