The Grizzlies get off to another hot start with Desmond Bane having another double digit scoring quarter in the first. Bane closed the half with 19 points, some of which came with the use of his signature “Fly By Kid” burner from deep. From Ja Morant on down the roster defense was clearly a priority out the gate as Memphis held Phoenix to just 38% shooting from the field for the first half.
The second half started off as if the Grizzlies would eventually pull away in blowout fashion. However The Suns had different plans in the final period. Phoenix went on an 11-0 run to start the fourth & Memphis didn’t stop the bleeding until Jitty made a spectacular putback. Devin Booker gives Phoenix the lead briefly with five seconds left. We’ll save the ending for Morant’s report card grade. Memphis wins again.
Ja Morant: 33:42 minutes 33 points/ 4 rebounds/ 4 assists/ 2 steals/ +15 +/-
12 got off to a good start for the first half with 12 points. He also dished out three assists & sported a +15 +/- which is accurate with the eye test of his defense thus far. Most impressively he played excellent defense on the pick and roll. Chris Paul tried to run with his big men. Morant’s defense played a huge part in Chris Paul going 0-4 in the first half.
On the offensive end he was electric with amazing drives at the rim finishing with all sorts of flair in his layups & floaters. The third quarter saw Morant run off another seven points within the first two minutes of the quarter. He went off for 15 points in the third period alone!
Ja gets things back under control when he checks back int the game mid way into the final period after Phoenix has closed the gap. As well know Booker takes the lead for the Suns by one point on a three point make after Bane got back on the shot attempt late (although Adams should’ve showed if you ask me).
Then comes Ja Morant in legendary form. He gets the ball & proceeds to take CP3 off the dribble attacking the rim. He’s met by not one not two but three defenders all positioned to swat away. Ja hangs in the air holding the ball until they’ve all committed. He then releases the shot at the rim to float it in. Memphis regains the lead & thus the win.
Ja played an excellent defensive & offensive game. He made Chris Paul work for every bucket he made while Morant was on the floor.
DESMOND BANE: 36:36 minutes/ 32 points/ 6 rebounds/ 3 assists/ 1 steal/ +3 +/-
BANE BANE BANE! Somewhere in the clouds John Witherspoon screamed this as Desmond Bane did his thang. Talk about a star in the making. Even if he isn’t your top option, he can definitely be an All-Star and he showed that right out of the gate again. Bane finished with a smoking hot 19 points in the first half.
He was good for another 13 points in the second half. Bane made crucial buckets down the stretch to help seal the close win. His defense had a few lapse plays that resulted in buckets from The Suns. Overall though he played decent enough defense to remain a net positive.
Bane finished with a career high six three-point makes & a career high 32 points. At the pace Bane is currently on, we maybe looking back at this season thinking Desmond Bane was robbed of an All-Star spot.
JOHN KONCHAR: 34 minutes 7 points/ 9 rebounds/ 2 assists/ 2 steals/ +3 +/-
Jitty didn’t reach double digit scoring but he still had a very solid showing as he grabbed nine rebounds & made great plays all night in both ends. In fact, again it was Jitty’s putback that ended Phoenix’s 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter. Solid game overall
JAREN JACKSON JR: 28:40 minutes/ 11 points/ 3 rebounds/ 2 blocks/ 1 steal/ +4 +/-
Jaren played solid defense as usual but had a rather quiet evening in terms of production. He was able to reach double digit scoring 11 points but was noticeably absent for nearly all of the fourth quarter. Very strange considering his defense wasn’t bad & he wasn’t in foul trouble. Something to monitor.
STEVEN ADAMS 31:27 minutes/ 13 points/ 16 rebounds/ 7 assists/ +14 +/-
What a game from Steven Adams! If he wasn’t pissing off the likes of Javale McGee, he was moving guys around like crazy in the paint to crash the boards. He made smart pass after pass that resulted in assists. He scored easy buckets & even made free throws. Oh and one can’t forget his fancy footwork on a few of those post shots he converted tonight. Excellent game from the big fella.
Rest Of the Crew: Killian Tillie & Kyle Anderson are usually good for making the most of their time & tonight was no different. Both guys made crucial plays, especially Tillie on defense all night from his positioning to his rim protection & shot blocking. Clarke made great use of his limited time as well. Most important they didn’t allow Phoenix bench to beat them up.
Taylor Jenkins and staff have made sure these guys are prepared no matter who is out or who is on the roster playing. Tonight was the same thing and they stole another win on the road versus an elite championship contender in Phoenix.
I questioned why Jenkins ran with the group that allowed the 11-0 run The Suns got on to start the fourth quarter. However Memphis closed things out in winning fashion. I am curious as to why Jaren barely played in the final period despite Phoenix going on such a run & taking the lead. All while Jaren had only two fouls & playing at least a decent game.