There’s really no other way to put it about Saturday night’s game against Phoenix.
When I first looked at the injury report for the game, I said ‘It’s finally happening, Justise is actually questionable.’ Then my excitement was tempered when I saw that about half of the team was out for the game.
With 4 of the top 6 players in minutes per game out for the matchup, the outcome was rather predictable. Sure, you were talking yourself into another 40-pt game from Ja (I was), or getting maybe a 25-30 point game from Melton or McDermott. Then reality set in — not only were the Grizz shorthanded, but also playing their fourth game in five nights against a healthy Phoenix squad. The Grizzlies weren’t going to win tonight.
The Beale Street Bears just didn’t have the firepower to keep up with the Suns. Phoenix only needed the first half to separate themselves from the Grizz, who missed their first 16! from 3, and then they coasted in the second half.
I’m going to hand out a few player grades and then the front office in the Report Card.
Justise Winslow (3-14 shooting from the field, 9 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal) – C
The day has finally arrived! More than a year after the Grizzlies traded for Justise, he stepped on the floor in a Grizz jersey. He looked every bit the part of a guy who hasn’t played for 400 days.
His shot was rusty (missing his first 8 shots) and he seemed a little too eager when he first checked into the game in the first quarter.
But, once he settled down, he made his next three shots and looked comfortable in his role. He was aggressive on the boards and made some good plays on defense. It’s tough to judge Winslow too much because of what he rolled out there with in his first game back. But, I think he will continue to improve as he is getting his legs under him.
The grade may seem a tad harsh because it’s his first game back, but I don’t think any Grizz player earned a good grade in the loss.
It will be interesting going forward though to see if Winslow continues to come off the bench or if he is slowly worked into the starting lineup.
Ja Morant (5-12 shooting from the field, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) – C+
It was an ugly night on the stat sheet for pretty much anybody on the home team. The reason I chose to highlight Ja is because you could tell how much he wanted it tonight, despite being very shorthanded. Ja played decent for the hand he was dealt, and continued to give it his all, despite being down 30 in the third quarter.
With the game out of reach, Coach Taylor Jenkins chose to keep Ja on the bench for the entire fourth quarter.
12 snapped his streak of nine straight games with at least 15 points, but this will more than likely be one of the worst, if not the worst game for Ja this season.
Grizzlies Front Office – B
This seems to be the story more than the game itself. I know that social media does not represent the entire fan base, but it does provide a nice sample size. I also keep in mind that social media can be a place for groupthink and knee-jerk reactions.
There was plenty of back and forth on Twitter throughout the game over the decision to rest Grayson, Kyle, and BC.
To those calling out the front office and coaching staff for that – Chill.
The front office deserves a little bit of a longer leash than it seems people are willing to give them. They’ve done a great job of building this team and staff to bring a competitive squad to Memphis earlier than expected. The vibe I got was a ‘what have you done for me lately?’ type deal.
Now, I agree that I wish the organization would be more transparent when it comes to injury timelines, but I have no problem with them resting guys --- especially on the fourth game in five nights.
And sure, there have been questionable lineup decisions as of late, but this is not one of them.
They aren’t tanking. This is a team with playoff aspirations, and as long as they do stay healthy and get Jaren back, they should be in the playoffs. Now, if they don’t make the playoffs and it’s because of resting guys, then I’ll admit I was wrong.
But for now, calm down.
The Grizzlies 31-point loss to Phoenix is one to forget for the team and the fans. I know normally much time isn’t spent on anything but the players, but because it seemed not too many people were that worried about the product on the court, I felt I’d give my thoughts on what other people were talking about.
Next up, the Grizzlies take on the Mavs in Dallas Monday. Expect the Grizzlies to have a much better performance with many more guys dressed out for the game.
A final grade for the loss against Phoenix – D.