The Grizzlies were without two of their key pieces in the rotation in Dillon Brooks and DeAnthony Melton, while John Konchar received his first career start. The Kings did their best to make things uncomfortable for the Grizzlies in the first half, holding them to just 37% from the field. While it was ugly on offense for the Grizz, their defense made it just as difficult for the Kings, who didn’t fare much better shooting only 40%.
The third quarter was all Grizz, outscoring the Kings by 13, and forcing 6 turnovers. They did a great job of turning the defense into offense and looked like the Grizzlies we recognized prior to the losing streak.
There were plenty of good performances in the Grizzlies win — I’m going to highlight three of them below and then touch on a couple of others in the final grade.
Let’s hand out some grades:
John Konchar — 11 pts (4-8 FG, 1-3 3PT), 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks — Grade: A+
It's a Jitty kind of night. pic.twitter.com/Nsss1VUlEW— Bally Sports: Grizzlies (@GrizzOnBally) December 27, 2021
What an introduction to the starting lineup. In his 94th career game, ‘Jitty’ got his first career start — not only that, but he also got his first career double-double. Konchar was all over the court; disrupting passing lanes, grabbing offensive boards, and just doing the small things to help the Grizzlies. In the end, that resulted in a career-high in rebounds with 14, including five on offense. Four of those offensive rebounds came in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Grizzlies to keep a comfortable lead and salt away the victory.
Konchar’s performance is the epitome of the Grizzlies ‘next man up’ mentality. It seem that no matter who is called on for a spot start, they always come through and deliver. It’s also another perfect example of why it tough to argue against the Grizzlies having the deepest roster in the league.
No doubt that Konchar has earned more minutes in the rotation with this performance, it will be interesting to see how Jenkins handles the lineups once Brooks, Melton, and Ziaire Williams all return.
Desmond Bane — 28 points (11-19 FG, 4-6 3PT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals — Grade: A
The ‘Bane Train’ is back on the tracks, after a lackluster game against Golden State. LHe was the only thing reliable for the Grizzlies in the first half, scoring 15 of his 28 points. While some of his shots didn’t seem too big at the time, he hit some key ones in the second quarter that kept the Kings from extending their lead too much — once with the Kings up 7 and then shortly before the half with the Kings up 4.
While Bane rarely puts together back-to-back performances like this, he does follow up a dud with a very nice game. Bane continues to mature into a player the Grizzlies can rely on to put them in a position to win on a night in, night out basis.
Steven Adams — 10 points (5-8 FG), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals — Grade: A
Another guy who followed up a dud against Golden State with a superb effort is Steven Adams. Adams was robbed of a double-double as he wasn’t credited with a rebound after a tip-out. He was also a beast on the offensive glass, along with Konchar, grabbing six offensive rebounds. He also was dishing out the assists like a former Grizzlies Center from Spain. One of Adams’ biggest contributions on the night didn’t show up on the stat sheet. He allowed Ja Morant to get going and get some space with his screening. Most of the time when Ja was able to get to the bucket or separate from his defender it was because Adams either set a pick or sealed off his man.
Final Grade: A-
A strong 2nd half pushed this into an A, but the slow start prevented it from being even higher. While Bane was the main guy responsible for keeping the Grizz close in the first half, Jaren Jackson and Kyle Anderson also did their part. Early on, shots weren’t falling for Jaren, so he did a good job of forcing the issue and getting to the foul line. Triple J finished with 21 points, including 10 from the charity stripe. Jaren once again struggled from the 3, going 1-8. He also continued to be a disrupter on the defensive end, collecting 2 blocks and notching his 22nd game with at least 2 rejections.
It would be criminal to not mention Ja Morant as this was the Grizzlies first win since his return last week. ‘Big 12’ overcame a slow start to flirt with a triple-double by the end of the night — 18 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds. As I mentioned earlier, the Grizz were uncomfortable in the first half, but as things opened up in the second half, it looked as if the game slowed down a bit for Ja and he was able to do his thing and control the game.
Next Up: Monday night in Phoenix.