On Wednesday afternoon, I had the privilege to be the assistant coach for the Collierville High School Lady Dragons basketball team, as they took on the Olive Branch High School Lady Conquistadors inside the FedEx Forum for the Play Like the Pros experience. The girls played a full game on the court, shooting NBA range three’s and learning about next-level conditioning. The coaches got to sit in the coaching seats, and it was a unique experience.
What I was not prepared for was the referees inside the FedEx Forum on a chilly Wednesday. In the high school game earlier that afternoon, our opponents shot 33 free throws, making 22 of them in what ended up being a four-point loss. The refs should never be noticed, but they certainly impacted the game both in pace and mentality.
Fast-forward a few hours later when the Grizzlies hosted the Dallas Mavericks in an important battle with division title implications down the road. I am not totally convinced these were not the same referees as they clearly wanted to be seen. This report card will be slightly different than most.
Now I am not going to say the Grizzlies lost the game because of the refs. As a coach, I tell my players that it is your job to take care of the things you can control each game: rebounding, communication, focus, energy and effort. Grizzlies got waxed on the glass, did not seem as locked in offensively and at times got physically punked by the Mavs. None of that is on the referees.
However, this is one of the more egregious refereeing nights in recent memory. If you review the game and see a high number of techs spread out, that can be an indicator of poor officiating. The final foul count was not lopsided, but Jaren continued to get a weak whistle, several calls were flat out missed or wrong and it definitely had a major impact on the game.
Grade: F as in far. Get as far away from Memphis as quickly as you can imo.
Shout out to the 2-way Frenchman Killian Tillie. The plus/minus may say -2, but Killian was quite obviously a player contributing positively towards a winning effort. In his first 9-minute stint, he produced two steals and a block leading to a final line of 6 points — both three’s — 2 steals 1 block and 1 rebound. He stepped in for the shorthanded Grizzlies and earned all of his 19 minutes.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Dear NBA Refs,
What did Jaren Jackson Jr. do to you? Why does your whistle not favor the budding young star?
A concerned fan
Alpha Jaren tied for a game-high in scoring with Luka Doncic with 26. His shooting night was a little rough, but he didn’t settle and attacked the rim, often scoring at will. He had multiple defensive plays throughout the game but was robbed of rhythm at times with some very questionable calls. Also Brevin Knight nailed it, the “high five” non foul on a jumper is stupid. If you aren’t allowed a follow through on your shot, it should be a foul. Despite all of it, Jaren kept his composure and continues to show flashes of brilliance everyone knows is there.
Taylor Jenkins: Good for him for not being so meek and picking up a tech defending his players. He threw out a suppppppeerrrrr weird rotation in the second quarter, but this loss is not him. He didn't shoot a 40-29-60 split. Grade: C+
Steven Adams: The Kiwi did some more good stuff. However, Luka hunted PNRs with him as the defender in the front stretch of the fourth quarter, perhaps being left in too long despite the things on offensive he was doing. The six turnovers are an anomaly, but he seems to be fitting into a little more expanded role and continues his run of solid play. Grade C-
The Wings: Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, John Konchar, De’Anthony Melton
Luka shot 50+ percent from the field and 50 percent from deep and frequently got to the spots he wanted. The Mavs as a team shot 36% from deep with 12 total makes. On top of the poor defensive numbers, the four combined to shoot 18-48 and 5-16 from deep. Without Ja, Jaren needs at least two of his mates on the wing to have it going and he got no help on the night. No reason to think this group won't be motivated and find it tomorrow, but Bane continued his weird road home splits. Grade: C