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Report Card: Clock Runs Out on Grizz

Furious 4th quarter comeback against league’s best comes up short

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Memphis Grizzlies v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Growth.

That’s what I saw most as the Grizz took the team with the best record in the league to the limit. After the first half, it looked as though the Jazz were well on their way to coasting to another victory. But in the second half, we saw budding superstar Ja Morant take over the game.

At times it felt like the Grizz were inching closer there in the third quarter, but every time I looked at the score, the Jazz were still ahead by double-digits. The Grizz never stopped scratching and clawing and taking it to Utah. Unfortunately, they came up just short. They had the momentum in one of the toughest places to play in the league, and it feels like time just ran out for them.

Ja Morant - 32 points (11-21 Shooting, 9-11 FTs), 11 assists, 4 rebounds Grade: A

What a show put on by ‘12’, especially in the second half.

Between the drives straight at the teeth of the defense to the Magic-like passes to his teammates, every time Ja touched the ball in the 2nd half, I was locked in, waiting for something big to happen.

Ja was not intimidated by the Jazz at all. He had a mission and that was to get the Grizz back in the game, and he almost led them to an improbable comeback. He looked like a superstar and finally got superstar calls.

You could tell how important he was, because of the first three minutes of the 4th quarter. Ja got a quick breather, and the Jazz increased their lead from 9 to 17. Once Ja returned, the Grizz ripped off an 11-2 run and then it was on.

We got the best version of Ja in the loss and its exactly why the fanbase is so hopeful for the future.

Memphis Grizzlies v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Dillon Brooks – 22 points (9-16 Shooting, 3-8 from 3), 1 rebound, +21 +/- Grade: A-

We saw everything in Dillon Brooks’ bag in the second half – stingy defense, big time shots, and getting inside the other team’s head.

He did get off to a slow start on the offensive end. But, as bad as Brooks was shooting in the first half (1-5, 0-3 3pt), Coach Jenkins may have been better suited just dealing with it. Donovan Mitchell scored 16 of his 19 points during the 10 minutes DB was out in the first half.

In the second half, DB was Robin to Ja’s Batman. With the Grizzlies down by 11 and two minutes to go, Ja and Dillon were the only two Grizzlies to score (DB – 8, Ja – 5). As a fan, you wanted the ball in DB’s hands, and wanted him to take the final shot. Just unfortunately, it didn’t drop.

Memphis Grizzlies v Utah Jazz Photo by Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images

Jonas Valanciunas – 14 points (5-14 shooting), 18 rebounds, 2 blocks Grade: C

It’s true, JV does wake up a double-double. It’s also true that he was getting worked all night down low by Rudy Gobert. Gobert finished with 25 points on 11 of 14 shooting. It’s just the third time all season Gobert has poured in 25 or more. You could see that Gobert had his number on the other end as well. JV missed some bunnies he usually makes, and there was the time he pump-faked after a beautiful behind-the-back dime from Ja, when he didn’t have to. Luckily for the Grizz, a goaltend was called.

This is the same movie we have seen before, as JV usually has trouble against the better bigs in the league.

JV was also a liability on the pick-and-roll game Utah was playing all night.

Valanciunas did battle, and I think it was necessary for him to play as many minutes as he did. The Grizz had some problems rebounding when he wasn’t in the game.

And it says something that JV was able to grab that big loose ball rebound down the stretch, after banging bodies with Gobert throughout the evening.


Damn was that fun.

This game had a playoff-like feel to it; things got chippy when the game started getting tighter down the stretch. Now this could be an overreaction, and my opinion might change after the next two games, but I’d be down for a playoff series with Utah - which is a possibility. While I don’t think the Grizzlies can take the series, I think they can put up one heck of a fight.

The Jazz are the better team, there’s no doubt about it. Utah is 18-2 at home and have only played *three* one-possession games this season. This young, growing Grizzlies team gave them all they could handle.

There are some things you would like to see more of — De’Anthony Melton’s minutes, and consistent bench play. Additionally, this is a game that makes those OKC and Golden State losses over the past few weeks so frustrating.

Next Up: This same Utah team Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

Final Grade: B

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