Hopefully three is the charm, because my “Drip N Slime” Memphis Grizzlies just lost their third game in a row. Golden State had a lot riding on this game, considering the Grizzlies have had the Warriors number as of late. I noticed the “I took this one personal” body language from Steph after Memphis last beat Golden State & said to myself, Curry is coming with a vengeance next game…and he did. I agree with Golden State Head Coach Steve Kerr when he says Memphis vs Golden State hasn’t quite reached rivalry status yet (at least not without a more recent playoff series).
The Grizzlies were overwhelmed by the early Christmas dinner cooking Chef Steph Curry decided to serve Memphis last night. Curry got going as he scored 30 points in the second half alone & finishing with 46 points. However it wasn’t just another cooking show starring Chef Steph Curry. Gary Payton Jr decided he wanted to be more like his dad & provide a lot of scoring with his usual defensive prowess. Steph must’ve activated “team take over” the way Gary was shooting the ball tonight. Memphis actually out rebounded Golden State 43-39, and also outscored Golden State in the paint 50-38, so one can’t necessarily point to a lack of effort on the Grizzlies’ part. With all of that said, here are the grades.
Ja Morant: 31 minutes/21 points/6 assists/ 3 rebounds/ -5 +/-
Ja Morant looked to get others going early in the game, as he finished the first half with only 6 points but with 6 assists also. Ja looked to fit in more than usual, as I noticed him playing off ball more than I’ve seen him do. He looked to find his spots, more so than looking to dominate the game as he’s shown he’s very well capable of doing. The second half saw a more aggressive Ja along with the sound defensive effort he displayed. However this was a game you have to get “all the way up off of your ass for” as we say in Memphis. This intense matchup started getting thick when Steph came to the defense of Andre Iguodola a couple of years back. Since then Steph has looked to put Memphis “in it’s place” so to speak, & #NxtGen ain’t been having none of that lately.
Ja looked solid but he has to know that when you create smoke with the Gods like Chef Steph, you gotta be able to match that & that was simply the difference tonight in what was a tight game almost the entire way. Failing to even come close to matching your counterpart in a loss, while also allowing that same opposing backcourt to score 68 points between two guys is far from bringing one’s “A game.”
However Ja was a +5 in a game Memphis loss by nine. So clearly he competed defensively which means he certainly did not lack effort. Just simply not enough to retain bragging rights on Chef Steph’s kitchen.
Jaren Jackson Jr: 28 minutes/ 20 points/5 rebounds/ 2 assists/ -12 +/-
Jaren has certainly made strides this season offensively & he continued to stay the course. He was aggressive attacking the basket all night & ended up attempting nine free throws as a result. He converted seven of his nine shots from the charity stripe. Jaren was a three level scorer & even had a block plus a steal. However he was a -12 & it was because of his defense. Jaren allowed Draymond Green to control the flow of the game with his playmaking.
In fact, Golden State’s scoring outburst from the perimeter guys was partly the result of Draymond’s playmaker game. Green only scored eight points but he had nine assists. Jaren’s individual net rating was a -26.6 so he was a liability in a sense. Cant have it all, but you gotta be able to walk & chew gum when you are on the cusps of greatness as Jaren is hopefully gearing into full time. Bringing your “A” game on both ends is a part of the requirements for said greatness from Jaren.
I was thrilled with his effort on offense, he just has to bring it on both sides every game, & especially statement games like this one could have been.
Dillon Brooks: 34 minutes/13 points/2 assists/2 steals/-14+/-
Dillon Brooks had a surprisingly bad game. He certainly shot himself out of the game in the middle quarters, after being gassed up with a nine point scoring effort in the first. He gave effort on defense, as seen when defending Steph Curry throughout the night. However, when on offense Dillon hurt his team’s possessions with bad shot after bad shot. Not good when Steph & Gary are smoking hot on the other end, ready to capitalize on any mistake the Grizzlies made.
Simply said, #NxtGen just could not overcome such deficiencies tonight. There were moments Dillon played as if he was getting paid per shot attempt. I’m all for aggressive Dillon, but one must not forget the smart part with it that wins games.
One thing Dillon can take away from Golden State guards like Steph, is that they get to their spots on the court they’re best scoring in & allowed Draymond to find them there making those shots even more easier to make & thus more efficient. Until then Dillon will have games like tonight where he was a net -18.
Desmond Bane: 30 minutes/ 12 points/2 rebounds/ 1 assists/ +1.3/ +2 +/-
Bane had why was probably the best all-around game of any Grizzlies player. Sure, he only shot 4/11 from the field overall. He also shot 3/7 from deep, good for 42.9% and scored 12 points while finishing fifth on the teams shot attempts chart.
Bane was one of the more efficient players on the floor for the evening. Despite not being very efficient from the field overall, he was still an efficient shooter & defender. Bane was not only a positive in the +/-, he was also had a positive net rating of 1.3 in a game his team lost by neary double digits. If anything Bane should have received a couple of the shot attempts Dillon had tonight. It would’ve possibly made a difference in such a close game.
Bane should’ve at least been utilized more from outside, especially with Memphis winning the war on the boards to create such opportunities. Instead we saw Bane place 5th in shot attempts with his 42.9% from distance. And that certainly played a factor in the loss. Bane has to be prioritized, especially outside on nights he finished 3/7 in a single digit loss. He should’ve been more aggressive, but how much more aggressive can you be as the 4th scoring option?
Steven Adams 22 minutes/ 0 points/ 5 rebounds/ 2 assists/ -4 +/-
Screw the fact he didn’t score tonight, because any half knowledgeable fan knows that’s the last thing Memphis needs Adams to do. Hell, replicating Aquaman is more of need than his scoring. One would bet money that Steven Adams would eat like a hog on the boards in this game. Golden State rolled out a lineup so small, that it virtually screams “Rebound For What?” However that was far from the case. In fact Adams was so lackadaisical on the boards that Coach Jenkins went to Xavier Tillman extensively to stop the bleeding. Adams finished the game with a whopping five rebounds in 22 minutes played. His defense was decent overall as he altered shots & forced change of direction a few times, but he didn’t give Memphis the advantage on the boards they needed in game the team struggled shooting (30% from 3pt) & only 42.2% overall. Adams was supposed to be the X factor, but it took X Man to make up the difference in rebounding. You gotta do better Big Fella, especially in statement games like this one.
De’Anthony Melton showed up BIG if nobody else did! Or at least that can be said offensively. Defensively he got scorched by the likes of Chef Steph & the Gary Payton Remix. He did contribute some big hustle plays, diving for lose balls, making steals & then converting them for quick scores. However he got served some of that early Christmas Dinner Chef Steph & his kitchen assistant GPII had on the menu for Memphis. Gotta have Velveeta for your mac & cheese, especially when you’re coming fresh off of two losses.
Xavier Tillman: 20 minutes/8 points/ 8 rebounds/ 2 blocks/ -3 +/-
X man delivered when called upon. If he was avoiding Chris Chiozza steal attempts as he charged to the rim & dunked all over Johnathan Kuminga, he was cleaning glass & proving rim protection. “X Man” was a bright spot in this game, showing he should be in the rotation, no matter how much talent Memphis is already forced to find minutes for.
Grade B+ (just a smudge short of an -A)
Kyle Anderson 19:31 minutes/ 8 points/ 5 rebounds/ 2 assists/ 1 block/ +8 +/-
“Slo Mo” had a very sneaky good performance this game. He only scored 8 points but nailed two shots from 3 point territory on three attempts to finish with a 66.7% 3FG. He also had the highest +/- of any Grizzlies player on the floor with +8 & a high net rating of +20. So if anything maybe Memphis should’ve played Kyle more earlier on when they saw he was getting off to a good start in place of maybe Adams or even Jaren when he wasn’t scoring. Kyle made winning plays his entire time on the court & made the defense pay for not respecting his shot as they left him noticeably opeN.
Jitty John Konchar was basically out there getting his cardio in the 11 minutes he played. Jitty was a -9 rating as he was often lost in defensive rotations & getting burned as a result. He finished with a whopping -46 net rating. We know this was one of those nights for Jitty who has been pretty good as of late. He has to know where to be on the floor especially defensively. Golden State was on one mostly due to a lack of awareness. Konchar is far from the main reason Memphis lost as he only played 11 minutes, but he was the worst player on the floor tonight in the minutes he did play. And we know for certain Jitty is better than that.
Tyus Jones was another one who didn’t offer much as well. Tyus has to remain consistent as he has proven to be very important if Memphis plans to win games this season. He has to know his offense is gonna be the X factor more often than not because most teams won’t have a reserve PG capable of doing what Tyus has proven he can do. Shooting 1/5 from the field for two points in a loss is unacceptable from a talent of Tyus caliber. Do Better Big Fella