Sunday afternoon hoops! I don’t know if you could draw up a better concept. It’s early enough where you cram in a couple episodes of a TV show before bed, or catch nearly the entire Sunday Night Football game. It’s also late enough where you can still hit your Sunday brunch.
The Grizzlies started out setting the tone with physicality. They jumped out to a 16-8 lead within the first 4 minutes of the game. Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr. were aggressive seeking buckets inside the arc. Jackson also had a monster block on Jusuf Nurkic that was just absolutely marvelous.
The Blazers were able to get back into the game through Damian Lillard’s hot first quarter, as he tallied 17 points in the period. The Grizzlies led at the end of the quarter with a 32-28 lead.
Surely, the Grizzlies would be able to generate some momentum with Lillard off the floor. However, Portland went on a mini-run to gather a 35-34 lead early in the quarter. The Grizzlies managed to retain the lead once they got Dillon Brooks and Steven Adams got back into the game. They went into halftime with a 52-51 lead.
The Grizzlies entered the 3rd quarter with their activity level on 10. They managed to corral a lot of steals — 6 just in that quarter — and force Portland into some tough shots. They also got a lot of offensive output from Dillon Brooks and Kyle Anderson — who supplanted Jaren Jackson Jr. early, as he got into foul trouble.
The Grizzlies went into the 4th quarter with a 80-77 lead. The contest continued to be back-and-forth, trading shots and stops at a time. The 4th quarter turned into a battle between Dillon Brooks and Damian Lillard, as they were going shot for shot. Each team was trading haymakers — Damian Lillard 4-point play, Jaren Jackson Jr. drive to the line, Desmond Bane’s second-chance 3-pointer, and a 3 from Norman Powell too.
Portland managed to get their lead out to 4 with 30 seconds left, after a mid-range jumper from Powell off a closeout. Damian Lillard fouled Dillon Brooks on a 3-shot foul with 9 seconds left, where Brooks hit all 3 free throws.
Unfortunately, the Grizzlies couldn’t tie the game with a 3, as Desmond Bane missed the tying bucket. They fell to Portland with a 105-100 score.
- Dillon Brooks brings it every single night. In a game where not everyone really had it, Dillon Brooks brought the fight and really kept this team in it to the end. Obviously it will shine the brightest through his career-best 37 points, but he also brought a relentless defensive attack with him as well. Taylor Jenkins has said, time and time again, that Dillon Brooks is the team’s spiritual leader, and tonight was another example. Even in defeat.
- Navigating foul trouble for Jaren Jackson. Once again, Jackson had a tough whistle in this game, fouling out in just 20 minutes. He struggled to make an impact defensively because of it, and his shot was off too. Though people will want Jenkins to let him play through it, Jackson too will need to learn to navigate the flow of the game in the midst of foul trouble.
- Not going to win games with off-shooting nights. This game can be marked to something simple. You don’t win many games shooting 38% from the field and 27% from 3.
- Steven Adams, stat-stuffer. Steven Adams’ presence was felt, as they had him matching minutes with Nurkic the majority of the game. He was attacking more as a scorer in this game, and he still managed to make an impact on the glass and as a passer. He also made big plays down the stretch that were pivotal to the Grizzlies’ chances of winning.
Back at it tomorrow though, as the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.