The Memphis Grizzlies had the Portland Trail Blazers once again, looking to complete the mini-series sweep. This time, they were without the returning Jaren Jackson Jr. — who was out for injury management with this back-to-back. However, Jonas Valanciunas came back into the concussion protocol.
Ultimately, it was a fun back-and-forth game that saw the best from Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas, and Carmelo Anthony. It got a little crazy at the end, as Memphis almost blew a 15-point lead. Nonetheless, the Grizzlies finished with the 120-113 win.
Takeaways from this thriller game.
Ja Morant was servin’
I’m just going to start with a series of tweets that consist of Ja Morant’s highlights this game.
Ja Morant was serving the goods this game, flashing the arsenal that’s made him one of the most exciting young players in the league. In a game that consisted of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, he looked like the best player on the floor, taking over the game at his own pace.
In addition, most importantly, Morant showed off a 3-level scoring attack that’s a staple for most All-Star guards. He found his touch from 3 off the dribble, and he also found a groove in the mid-range too. If that’s what’s in store in the evolution of Ja Morant’s game, it’s about to get scary.
Jonas Valanciunas didn’t miss a beat
Even though Jaren Jackson Jr. was out of this game, the return of Jonas Valanciunas allowed the Grizzlies to continue humming in this matchup. He did not miss a beat after missing time in the concussion protocol.
Let’s start with the cool stuff, Valanciunas came back and started hitting 3’s. Just in the second quarter, he tied his career-high for 3’s made in a single game (3).
His presence on the glass wasn’t as felt, since Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter (his primary matchups) are forces on the glass too. However, he managed to continue find his groove in the paint.
- Dillon Brooks is the ultimate antagonizer. Dillon Brooks continued his run of attacking the other team’s star player defensively, forcing Lillard into a 8-26 shooting night. He also traded words with Carmelo Anthony, then making a collection of big buckets after the double-technical. Always nice to have someone get under the opposing team’s skin.
- The sneaky goodness of Kyle Anderson. Kyle Anderson helped set the tone for the Grizzlies early with how he was putting pressure on the basket. In addition, he did a good job of finding his offense within the flow of the game.
- Good Justise Winslow minutes! Justise Winslow had his strongest games since his return from thigh soreness. He was aggressive attacking the basket, while converting on lay-in’s as well. He also played some good individual defense on CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony. It’s a process to integrate him into the system, but I like the early returns on these bench lineups with him as the primary playmaker.
- Need more from Grayson Allen and Desmond Bane. Allen’s shooting struggles continued, as he failed to make a 3 in his 2nd consecutive game. Then, Bane didn’t even attempt a 3 in 18 minutes of action. Allen and Bane have had extraordinary shooting months, but if the Grizzlies are going to make progress in the standings over this final stretch, they need them firing from deep.