The Memphis Grizzlies went on the road to the nation’s capital for their last road game of the first half on Tuesday night and left with a tested, yet convincing victory. The Washington Wizards were clicking on all cylinders of late, winning seven of their last nine, but the upstart Grizz did not care. They held Bradley Beal, the league’s leading scorer per game, to 10 points below his nightly average.
The arc was not the enemy on this night as they outshot the Wizards in both total makes (13-11) and percentage (45%-36%). Memphis also dominated the boards to the tune of a 7 rebound advantage. It was an all around effort as the Grizz were down Grayson Allen and Kyle Anderson, two current starters.
There was a star player in D.C. Tuesday night that dropped 30 and outplayed everyone on the floor. It was not Bradley Beal. Nor was it Russell Westbrook. It was future superstar Ja Morant. Morant put together his first 30 point 10 assist game of his career with 35 points 10 assists and 5 rebounds on 61% shooting and 2-3 from deep. Whatever the motivation heading into this game, this is the Morant that Memphis has been waiting on. It is possible he is just now healing from the ankle, or he has locked in on a different level, but Ja showed everyone that their doubt was in haste. He grades out at an A+
Speaking of motivation, Melton has more than proven he should never receive another DNP-CD. Mr. Do Something shot 6-10 from three on his way to a 20 piece off the bench. Not only was he scorching from deep, he also pitched in 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. That is the stat line of a player who belongs in an NBA rotation. Beyond the stats, his jumper is one of the more repeatable shots in terms of mechanics — the tools are there for him to be a fixture in the rotation for his shot-making and defense.
Jonas has seemingly caught the foul bug the last few games as he was in foul trouble early again against the Wizards. Salivating at the matchup against Mo Wagner, Valanciunas never really got going, scoring 11 points on 5-11 shooting. Despite not pitching in much offensively, Jonas contributed to winning by snagging 16 rebounds. You’d like to see him defend without fouling, therefore he grades out at a C-
Dillon Brooks - Brooks had 9 early and efficient points, combining with Ja for 18 of Memphis’ first 21 points. But even on the “good” nights, he leaves you wanting more. It took him 19 shots to get 20 points while shooting 25% from deep. He routinely got beat on drives to the basket, but did play an important role in denying Bradley Beal throughout the night. On the Dillon Brooks curve, he grades at B-
Justise Winslow- Twenty one minutes seems a little light for the defensive stalwart, but Memphis did not need him to play more than that, up double digits most of the game. He scored 10 points on 5-9 shooting while being tasked with guarding either Westbrook or Beal. Winslow continues to find his footing leading to a B+
Brandon Clarke- There was a legit argument that Justise Winslow was the natural fit to slide in for Kyle in the starting lineup tonight, but Clarke played admirably as a starter. In 34 minutes, BC had 14 points on 67% shooting, 5 rebounds and 4 steals. One possession that stood out was his one on one defense against Bradley Beal that led to Beal missing a fadeaway mid range shot. Clarke was what he always is: great. Grade A-