WHEN: 7 PM CT
WHERE: Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/NBA League Pass/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: OUT Jaren Jackson Jr. (LT knee meniscus surgery recovery), Killian Tillie (LT foot soreness), and Jontay Porter & Sean McDermott (G-League assignment)
LOS ANGELES: OUT Patrick Patterson (personal), Daniel Oturu (G-League assignment)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas
LOS ANGELES: Patrick Beverley, Nicolas Batum, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Serge Ibaka
The Memphis Grizzlies are back to their winning ways, as they return to a .500 after thrashing the Los Angeles Clippers. The offense was humming and playing with excellent pace. The defense cleaned up a lot of their mistakes, preventing a three-point parade from one of the league’s elite shooting teams.
The returns of Dillon Brooks and Justise Winslow were valuable, as the Grizzlies had 3 big wings — those two and Kyle Anderson — to slow down and throw different looks at Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. On the offensive end, they alleviated pressure off Ja Morant by initiating the offense some plays and creating opportunities off the dribble for themselves or others.
Then, the bench was also stellar in dictating the pace of the game and extending the Grizzlies lead — in large part because of the stellar outing from Tyus Jones. Overall, it was a great game to get the team to correct its mistakes and return to their winning ways.
And now they face this Western Conference contender again.
The hottest trend in Memphis right now is...Tyus Jones
TYUS STONES, YA HEAR ME?
Tyus Jones put on an absolute show in last night’s game that led to a career-high 20 points. He managed to carve the defense at will, generating floater after floater once he got inside. As those scoring chances went down in the second half, he controlled the game with his playmaking — tallying 5 assists as well.
Jones ultimately showed his worth in last night’s game and highlighted the significance of a good backup point guard. Not that Ja Morant was struggling, but Jones took pressure off him with his attack last night, which resulting in the Grizzlies extending their lead.
He also played with nice confidence throughout the entire game, as he was striking the balance of maintaining the attack mentality as a scorer and as a playmaker. During postgame, he said that’s been the biggest thing for him as a point guard, since he knows he needs to take what the defense gives him in both respects. Also, when he does that, his teammates put trust and confidence in him. And when Tyus Jones becomes Tyus Stones, it produces a well-oiled machine.
Others Trending Up
- Jonas Valanciunas continues tearing apart defenses down low with his dominance on the glass, averaging 17.7 points and 12.4 rebounds over the past 11 games. Though he has his flaws as a perimeter defender, his value shines as he beats up stretch bigs down low and creates extra possessions with his rebounding.
Not Quite the Downward Spiral: De’Anthony Melton
The Memphis Grizzlies are going to have to make tough rotation decisions sooner rather than later. They have 13 players (counting usual DNP-CD player Gorgui Dieng) that are good enough to be in a legitimate NBA rotation. Meanwhile, Coach Jenkins has stuck with a 10-man rotation. As the injury list shrinks, the tough rotation calls are coming quicker.
The first casualty: De’Anthony Melton.
Prior to tonight’s game, there was small speculation behind it. Was it going to be De’Anthony Melton or rookie Desmond Bane? Or would they go small and leave Xavier Tillman out of the rotation? Towards the end of the 1st quarter, the decision was clear that Melton was not going to be in the rotation last night.
It’s a bummer too, as the Grizzlies inked the productive young role player to a long-term deal last offseason. And prior to his injury, he showed strides as a live-dribble creator and outside shooter, while maintaining his impact as a strong defender and secondary playmaker.
I’m still unsure if this is a permanent 10-man decision. It could become matchup-based. Or with this season being about “data accumulation,” they could look into rotation some players in and out to make sure they have enough of the data they need.
It’s all up in the air right now, but it doesn’t look great for De’Anthony Melton right now.
Last night, we saw a nearly-full team play Memphis Grizzlies basketball and with the swagger of it. With Justise Winslow and Dillon Brooks back, there’s more versatility and defensive edge within the wing rotation. It made life easier for guards like Ja Morant and Tyus Jones on the offensive end of the floor. A nearly-full team also showcases a marvelous brand of basketball that’s fun to watch, and the pure excitement on the floor highlights the fun in covering a young team.
Now can they do it all again and beat the Los Angeles Clippers for the second straight night?