That buzzer beater shall be the Joker origin story for myself and others.
Before that hectic ending that I will do my best not to rehash, the Memphis Grizzlies played really good basketball on national television - something that used to be a rare occurrence. They played a nice clean half of basketball in the first half with zero turnovers in the first quarter and only two for the duration of the first half. Grayson Allen played an impressive game that saw him score 23 points supported by a 6-11 effort from deep. Dillon Brooks embraced the massive challenge that is defending Luka Doncic as he made his night difficult regardless of how the game ultimately ended. The Grizzlies led for a majority of the game but their inability to pull away - as well as their ineffectiveness from the free throw line during crunch time - came back to cost them.
As Ja Morant stated in the post game presser, “This was playoff basketball.” He was also right that they shouldn’t hang their heads about how they played. Losing in the manner that they did will always suck but that is all a part of it.
Let’s focus on some positives with some grades.
Grayson Allen - 35 minutes, 7-13 shooting (6-11 3PT), 23 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, -5 +/-
Negative: A 90+% free throw shooter missed two free throws with the game on the line. Misses happen but you really wish they didn’t, especially given the situation. Sadly, this negative will most likely over shadow the magnificent game Allen had prior to the last 5 seconds of last night’s game.
Grayson Allen’s offensive tear continued last night as he had yet another dominant first quarter scoring 14 of the Grizzlies 34 first quarter points helping them keep pace with the Dallas Mavericks. After a quiet second quarter, Allen resurfaced in the 2nd half to pour in more threes as he finished with six on the night. Hopefully, Allen moves past what happened at the end of last night’s game because the shooting prowess he’s displayed over the course of the last month will be pivotal to the Grizzlies playoff push.
Grade: B (it would have been an A prior to the free throws)
Dillon Brooks - 31 minutes, 6-17 shooting (1-3 3PT), 15 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, -1 +/-
The focus will be on Luka Doncic’s game winner and his final stat line of 29 points and 9 assists but what will be overlooked was Dillon Brooks’ impact on the game and more specifically on Doncic himself.
Anyone who draws Luka Doncic as their defensive assignment is in for a long night but Dillon Brooks all but stepped up to the challenge. In his shootaround availability, Brooks mentioned that he wanted to make him more of a driver and keep him off of the free throw line as much as possible.
He succeeded in his goal for a majority of the night. In the first half, Dillon Brooks held Doncic to 4 points on 1-6 shooting (0-3 from deep). Doncic impacted the game most in the first half as a passer as Brooks took away a number of looks that have made him one of the league’s more prolific scorers instead he had to find teammates that were open due to the Grizzlies to over help and over extend themselves to star players. In the 2nd half, Doncic and the Mavericks spammed pick and rolls in hopes of getting Doncic in iso situations with Jonas Valanciunas or Ja Morant that generally led to points but the few instances Brooks was able to stay attached it often led to a Doncic pass or miss.
Offensively, Brooks could have been better as 5-14 inside the arc is never anything you want to see from anyone but his effort defensively against one of the best in the game right now is to be commended.
This loss stings and could have adverse effects come the end of the season in terms of the Grizzlies playoff and division championship aspirations. The Grizzlies played well for a majority of the night against a Dallas team that can give anyone fits but they have to do a better job of finishing. That being said, they don’t have much time to dwell on this heart breaking loss as they begin a 7 game road trip exclusively against teams currently in line for the NBA playoffs. There’s no better time to embrace their team mantra of “not too high, not too low” as they rebound from this one and slowly have players return from injury,
GRIZZLIES GRADE: B-