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Report Card: Grizz bench sparks win

Memphis pulls away late for important win before tough road trip

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Minnesota Timberwolves v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Big time bench effort.

The Memphis Grizzlies took care of business at home against Minnesota before having to get back out on the road Sunday.

It was a back and forth affair for the majority of the first 2 ½+ quarters until the Grizzlies broke things wide open at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth. The run that separated the Grizz from the T-Wolves can be credited to the bench.

We’ve seen good performances off the bench recently, but we haven’t had a game where the entire bench pitched in like this in a while.

This report card will focus on two starters who had subpar games, and then the bench as a whole.

Time to hand out some grades:

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Ja Morant – 11 points (3-7 shooting, 2-4 3pt), 7 assists, 3 rebounds Grade: C

A quiet game from the budding superstar. It seems like Ja will have these type of games every once in a while.

He showed up big against Utah on Wednesday, pouring in 36 points; but scored just 12 points in the two games prior. I know scoring isn’t everything, and he really wasn’t needed in the wins over Minnesota and Houston, but, I think it’s reasonable to ask if Ja may be better served to take a game off and get some rest.

Let’s be real, he is young and only in his second year, and last season was anything but a normal season. I think it’s possible that Ja could be still be getting used to the grind of an NBA season. He does do a good job of pulling back in games where he isn’t needed and has been able to flip a switch when necessary. I’m not too concerned about it, but it is something worth watching.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Anderson – 7 points (2-8 shooting, 1-3 3pt), 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 block Grade: C+

Slo-Mo did everything for the Grizzlies except provide some scoring in their win. The thing about it, is that he does it quietly and you don’t realize it until you actually look at the box score. He did most of his work in the first half, including a nice block on Malik Beasley.

He is the guy you want on your team to do the little things, especially on a night when his shot wasn’t falling for him.

Grizzlies Bench – 56 points (20-46 shooting, 8-21 3pt), 25 rebounds, 11 assists Grade: A

This win can be credited to the Grizzlies bench. As mentioned in the open, the Grizz have been getting good performances from the reserves, but not as a whole. We’ve seen Clarke, Melton, Bane, etc. each do well individually, but when the bench gels like they did against Minnesota, it’s a thing of beauty.

4 bench guys finished in double-digits – Melton’s hot shooting continued, Tyus dished out 5 assists, and Bane grabbed 7 boards. Also, Xavier Tillman, who seemingly fell out of the lineup, put in good quality minutes when Jonas picked up two quick fouls in the first; Tillman also had some nice run in the second half.

With about 3 minutes to go in the third, the Grizzlies actually trailed 81-80. The next nine and a half minutes, the Grizzlies outscored Minnesota 35 to 9 to pull away. The bench accounted for 27 of those 35 points – 12 by Melton.

Speaking of Melton, he continues to show off why he needs more minutes, he was instant offense in the second half, and that’s something the Grizzlies need. Bane can give it as well, but not as consistently as Melton. Here’s an incredible stat as well that was put out by Fastbreak Breakfast – since the All-Star break, Melton is 22-31 (71.4%) on 3-pointers in the second half of games.


Final Thoughts: Jonas dominated the paint while he was in the game, but was in foul trouble the majority of the time. Grayson also played well as he returned to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s game against Utah.

This was a game the Grizzlies HAD to win, and it was nice to see them pull away for a no-doubter.

The Grizzlies now head out on a four-game road trip, beginning with Philly on Sunday.

Final Grade: B

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