The Memphis Grizzlies are going streaking, but in the wrong direction. The Grizzlies found themselves on the wrong end of a 122 – 99 decision at the hands of the Phoenix Suns in the second game of a back-to-back. It was a disappointing loss, but not unexpected as the Suns have been one of the hottest teams in the league --- winning 15 of their last 18 and sitting in 2nd place in the West.
Things looked promising at the outset, as the Grizz showed a little more life and firepower than they did in the underwhelming loss against OKC Sunday afternoon. But the Suns asserted their dominance toward the end of the first quarter and didn’t look back.
It felt as if Devin Booker had this game circled on his calendar since January when went 5-for-21. He lit up the Grizzlies for 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting. He also had 23 on just 7-of-13 from the field last month. Chris Paul was also his usual steady self, carrying the Suns with 18 points on 9-of-11, 7 assists, and 4 steals.
Now it’s time for the Report Card. Justin Lewis, a GBB contributor and co-host of the 3 and D podcast, said I should ‘Give Grayson and Jonas A’s. Kick DB out of school, suspend Bane for skipping class and put Ja on academic probation.’
Let’s be honest, nobody deserves an A for this game.
Jonas Valanciunas: 24 points (11-14 shooting), 17 rebounds, 2 steals – Grade B-
I’m being a little harsh on JV because usually I go light on him and he ends up with an ‘A’ in this column. Now, let me be clear, if this grade were just his offense, then it would be an easy ‘A.’ But it’s not.
First the good. Jonas dominated the glass on both offense and defense. He became the first Grizzlies player in history to get 11 points and 9 rebounds in the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, he took two shots. I think there is something to be said on how when the Grizzlies go away from Jonas, they seem to struggle at times.
Now for the bad. While I could argue that Jonas needs to see more minutes, he is a liability on defense, and this loss was a perfect example. The Suns basically made a living from the midrange, CP3 and Booker in particular. A lot of it was when Jonas wasn’t coming up to guard them or making the switch when needed.
Grayson Allen: 15 points (4-8 shooting, 2-5 from 3), 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds – Grade B
Welcome back Grayson. You may have just earned your way back into the Grizzlies starting lineup. Allen had missed the previous 6 games – 4 for a concussion, the other 2 DNP-CD. There was some talk about how Grayson could find his way out of the rotation completely after missing just a handful of games due to injury.
In his return to action, Grayson provided a nice spark off the bench, when they needed it. He played well on both sides of the ball, but did most of his work in the 2nd quarter. He threw up zeroes in the third across the board (except for 1 turnover) and scored 6 in garbage time in the fourth.
Allen’s showing could be enough to get him back in the starting five, or at least more minutes, as both Bane and Melton disappointed.
Ja Morant: 15 points (4-12 shooting), 4 rebounds, 3 assists – Grade C-
This wasn’t the best performance from Ja to say the least. He was kept in check and outplayed by a future Hall of Famer in Chris Paul. While that’s nothing to hang your head about, Ja does need to improve on a few things to become the superstar we all expect him to be.
Ja had some trouble keeping up on the defensive end. He also took a while to get going on offense, missing his first four shots. You could see Ja was pressing a bit too, as he seemed indecisive at times when he would get into the lane. That’s something that is unusual for Ja, as we are used to his highlight reel plays. It almost seems like he gets in his own head when he doesn’t get a foul call.
There was a little good from Ja, as he did get to the free throw line 10 times, making 7 of them. While you would like to see him make 8 or 9 of those, he is shooting 79% on the season, so that would be nitpicking. He also stayed aggressive throughout the entire game.
The Grizzlies are not going to win a game when they score just 99 points (0-7 on the season when under 100), as well as when they have just 15 assists, and 5 made 3’s. Also, the Grizzlies didn’t get much from their bench besides Grayson. And, I’m not sure if Desmond Bane has hit the rookie wall, but he hasn’t been good in the last few games and bottomed out in this game, going 0-3 while getting the start.
The good news is all these problems are something the Grizzlies can fix, and we’ve seen them play and compete with the best in the league.
As they say – ‘On to the next one!’ Which isn’t going to be any easier – Wednesday night at home against the Miami Heat.
Final Grade: D+