A scene all too familiar.
The Memphis Grizzlies have followed up their seven-game win streak with a four-game losing streak. During the first two games, the Grizzlies were obviously overmatched. But, in the last two games, the Grizzlies took a lead into the fourth, only to lose it and the game.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins has been pretty good so far this season, but I feel it’s safe to say that there have been a few questionable lineup decisions in the last two games, especially down the stretch.
The Raptors used a 19-4 run at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth to pull away from the Grizz.
There were some positives – Ja looks the healthiest he’s been since his return from injury, and Jonas Valanciunas put in a dominating 27/20 performance.
I’ll break down those performances and a few more in the report card.
Ja Morant (18 points, 5-17 shooting from the field, 9 assists, 2 turnovers) – B-
12 looked like his healthy explosive self for about 3 quarters, but was nonexistent in the fourth. The reigning rookie of the year was a distributor in the first half picking up 7 assists, to go along with his 11 points – more than half from the charity stripe. Also in the first half, we saw Ja hit a miraculous 3-pointer, and he made it look like it’s something he practices at least twice a day.
In the second half, Ja came out hot, scoring 7 of the Grizzlies first 9 points. But, for the final 22+ minutes of the game, Ja did not score, missing his final 6 shots. The Raptors defense clamped down on Ja and the rest of the Grizzlies, holding them to 38% from the field in the second half, including 4-20 from deep.
Jonas Valaciunas (27 points, 8-12 shooting from the field, 11-12 free throws, 20 rebounds) – A
Have yourself a game Jonas.
JV dominated down low for the Grizz, collecting a double-double in the first half. GBB’s own Shawn Coleman pointed out that Jonas is the first player in Grizzlies history with at least 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Jonas showed an aggressiveness that we haven’t seen much of this season. The problem with that was that he did find himself in foul trouble in the second half. It was also nice to see him be in control in a game where he had an obvious advantage.
Hopefully this aggressiveness continues this week against Charlotte and another match-up against the big men on the Lakers.
Grizzlies Bench (18 points, 5-13 shooting from the field, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 turnovers) - C-
What normally is a strength for the Grizzlies turned into their biggest weakness Monday night. To be fair, they were hurt with the absences of Brandon Clarke and De’Anthony Melton. But, prior to the game, the bench had scored at least 47 points in its last eight games.
Grayson Allen was a bright spot for the bench, knocking down three of six from deep. I do think some of the lineup decisions are responsible for the poor performance from the bench. But, this is a game roster that Coach Jenkins had yet to work with this season.
Clarke and Melton should return to the lineup soon, which will give an immediate boost to the bench squad.
There were a few other notables from the game. Rookie Desmond Bane played well in his first start of his career. Bane slid into the starting lineup with Clarke out.
Also, Dillon Brooks finished with 22 points in 37 minutes. He also went cold in the 2nd half, shooting 30%.
Grizzlies will try and snap their losing streak on Wednesday when they take on Charlotte.