We almost got the Jaren Jackson Jr. season debut. The Grizzlies’ big man was listed as “doubtful” for the first time this season, leading to speculation tonight would be his debut — with little regard for the actual definition of “doubtful.”
Meanwhile, the revolving door of injuries continued to be in full swing. De’Anthony Melton, Justise Winslow, and Brandon Clarke made their returns to the rotation. However, Dillon Brooks (thigh soreness) and Jonas Valanciunas (concussion protocol) sat out in this one.
As the Grizzlies continue their 7-game road trip with a battle against the Denver Nuggets, could they extend it their run to 3-0? Could they manage MVP candidate Nikola Jokic without Jonas Valanciunas?
Honestly, the early parts of the first quarter indicated it was going to be a rough one. The Grizzlies couldn’t buy a bucket, and former Memphis Tiger Will Barton scored the first 13 points for the Nuggets.
Then, De’Anthony Melton.
The Grizzlies outscored the Nuggets by 17, once Melton entered the game. The returning guard ripped off 14 points and hit 4 three’s — including some unbelievable heat checks.
The Grizzlies battled back to close the 1st with a 35-27 lead.
The second quarter started slow, as the Grizzlies only scored 5 points in the first 6 minutes of the game. However, they ultimately got nice production from outside from De’Anthony Melton, Grayson Allen, and Xavier Tillman in the quarter — as they combined for 5 three’s.
They were able to hold off a strong finish to the half from MVP candidate Nikola Jokic to go into intermission with a 60-56 lead.
The Grizzlies ripped off a 12-3 run within the first 3.25 minutes of the half, led by the offensive production of the rookies Tillman and Desmond Bane.
Denver inched closer behind the exquisite play of Nikola Jokic. Then Ja Morant turned in on to score 11 points in the quarter, relentlessly attacking the basket for easy buckets. They also got nice plays from Grayson Allen and John Konchar...
OH MY LORD JITTY ALLEY OOPS!
The Grizzlies continued to get strong John Konchar minutes, as he had a tough finish inside and drilled a corner 3.
A lineup note, the Grizzlies did roll with a De’Anthony Melton (then Desmond Bane), John Konchar, Justise Winslow, Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman for a bit. Meanwhile, Tyus Jones did not get any time in the 2nd half. Probably nothing, but it’s worth noting.
De’Anthony Melton also caught a body. It was fantastic:
The game got too close, as the Nuggets were chipping away at the lead. There was an excruciatingly-long replay review that ended in an out of bounds call being overturned to be the Nuggets ball. With 31 seconds left in the game, Jokic got the foul call and tied the game with 2 free throws.
The Grizzlies trapped Ja Morant on the final possession, leading to an Allen triple attempt and miss with Jokic closing out.
Ja Morant took over the extra period with 9 points to kick off the festivities, including a tough and-1 on Jokic.
Grayson Allen missed a dunk on Nikola Jokic in transition, then got the ball thrown at him by Campazzo out of bounds. You could question Allen’s decision, but there was a no-call. Will Barton hit a 3 to tie the game at 125 with 12 seconds left.
Ja Morant missed the wild floater to go to a 2nd overtime.
In the 2nd overtime, Nikola Jokic took over, as MVP candidates do, but Ja Morant went toe-to-toe with him to keep the Grizzlies in this game. Ultimately it wasn’t enough, as the
- Ja Morant: 36 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals
- De’Anthony Melton: 25 points (6-10 from 3), 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals
- Grayson Allen: 24 points, 3 steals
- Xavier Tillman: 18 points, 14 rebounds