In the absence of Ja Morant, the Memphis Grizzlies have just played with an entirely different level of focus, which was again on display tonight in their dominating 105-90 win over the Miami Heat. While it was not technically a wire-to-wire win since there was a tie in the 1st quarter, they once again never trailed as they enforced their will over a Miami team that may have been missing Bam Adebayo, but still had everyone else in their regular rotation.
So let’s take a look at some report card grades! Speaking of enforcers:
Steven Adams: A, 17 points on 6-8 shooting, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, +15
Steven Adams has had his fair share of good and bad games as well as ones where he has generally been non-existent. But he truly became a Memphis Grizzly tonight, as he looked like a man among boys against the Heat’s admittedly short-handed front-court.
As his stat-line would suggest, his dominance on the glass changed the course of the game in the second half. The Heat were totally unable to box him out, and he was able to grab 7 offensive rebounds as a result, which matched the Heat’s total as a team for the game.
But he cussed in the post-game interview and set a bad example for the children, so I’m afraid he gets an A instead of an A+.
Desmond Bane: A, 21 points on 7-15 shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, +12
Desmond Bane being this good honestly changes some things a bit for the Grizzlies. Been so, so big in most of these games without Ja. Good example of using Summer League to get reps as a creator, then taking that experience to real NBA games.— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) December 7, 2021
Late in the third quarter, Desmond Bane made a contested step-back three off the dribble, and it occurred to me that there’s really no else in franchise history who would even consistently take that shot, much less make it.
To be sure, he’s developing into a player better than anything anyone could have reasonably envisioned when he was drafted. And he’s well on his way to becoming a tertiary star for the Grizzlies.
Dillon Brooks: A, 21 points on 8-21 shooting and 3-6 from three, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, +22
This game had a little bit of everything from Dillon Brooks, but his impact was overwhelmingly positive. His shot selection was sometimes questionable and he probably took too many shots, but he demonstrated his immense growth as a playmaker, totaling a career-high 8 assists.
His defense in particular was phenomenal. He was disruptive in passing lanes and forced Jimmy Butler out of rythym right from the opening tip.
- Tyus Jones, A: 14 points, 7 assists, +20. Yeah, he’s pricing himself out of the Grizzlies’ range for next year.
- Jaren Jackson Jr, C+: 14 points on 6-16 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks.