Grizzlies win in a throwback to the Grit-Grind era after Ja goes coast-to-coast on Jimmy Butler in the final seconds to get the good guys back in the win column, 89-85 over the Miami Heat.
It was beautiful basketball if you are a Grizz fan, but for the average NBA fan, it was pretty ugly. The Grizzlies were able to win a game for the first time when scoring under 100 points. And honestly, after the last three games, Grizz fans will take a win anyway they can get one.
It also seems they cleaned up some things that led to the three-game losing streak – questionable rotations; hesitancy on shooting the 3; and bench scoring.
Good defense, big-time hustle plays from De’Anthony Melton, and a nice run to end the third fueled the win for Memphis.
Now it’s time to hand out some grades.
De’Anthony Melton – 13 points (4-9 shooting, 1-4 from 3), 10 rebounds, 6 assists – Grade: A
What a night for ‘Mr. Do Something.’ Not only did he fill up the stat sheet, but he also made key play after key play on both ends of the floor.
He provided good defense on the Heat shooters, and was in the right place at the right time. No bigger play than when he got the rebound off a Kyle Anderson miss, got fouled, and drilled both free throws with the game tied at 83. Melton, along with Ja, was also instrumental in the 17-0 run to close out the third, scoring 7 points and a posterization of Bam Adebayo to finish it off.
Melton did all of this in just 23 minutes of action. His performance, combined with Grayson Allen’s lackluster game, could make Melton the next man up in the revolving door of starting 2’s for the Grizz. If that’s not the case, he’s at least earned the courtesy of not getting a DNP-CD the rest of the season.
Brandon Clarke – 6 points (1-5 shooting), 3 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists – Grade: B
Another guy that provided a spark off the bench for the Grizzlies was Brandon Clarke. The stat line may not show it, but his presence on defense was huge.
He played the 5 for the majority of his time in the game, and made things difficult for the Heat big men, collecting a pair of blocks on Precious Achiuwa and a third on Bam Adebayo.
Props to Head Coach Taylor Jenkins on recognizing that it just wasn’t a game where Jonas was going to be a factor and rolling with BC when it mattered. Xavier Tillman has struggled as of late, and it will be interesting to see if BC will be used to spell Jonas, as well as play next to him at times.
Ja Morant – 13 points (5-15 shooting, 0-5 from 3), 6 assists, 4 rebounds – Grade: B-
“Go get a bucket, simple as that.”
12 knew what he had to do to lead the Grizz to a W, and he did just that. On one of the league’s better defenders in Jimmy Butler at that.
While the finish will be remembered for years by Grizzlies fans, the rest of the game was rather forgettable for Ja.
He struggled once again shooting the ball, and he didn’t get to line but five times – making three. Ja did recognize that and made an effort to get his teammates involved by dishing out 6 dimes.
It was good to see that Ja seemed to have a little more bounce in his step than he did in the loss to Phoenix and appeared to not be as bothered when a call didn’t go his way. Hopefully that shot and this win will get him out of the mini slump he is in.
Don’t get me wrong, it was bad shooting night for Grizzlies, especially for Ja, Justise, Grayson, and DB (27% combined). Miami also missed a few open shots at the end. So, maybe the Grizz were lucky to get this one, but it is nice to see one go their way.
The game was pretty hard to watch, but a win over the defending Eastern Conference champs who have won 11 of their last 12 is HUGE. I’ve learned to not assume anything with this team from one game to the next, but maybe, just maybe this is the win that gets them back on track.
Next Up: Golden State on Friday and Saturday at FedExForum.
Final Grade: C+