Games like last night are fun.
I could probably run through the entire roster and come up with high grades for everyone, whenever a team takes care of a playoff (not play-in) team like this — especially off a back-to-back. Though they were without Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas, the Memphis Grizzlies embodied the “next man up” mentality to take care of business.
There was urgency, aggression, and energy. When those 3 things are seen from the Memphis Grizzlies, there will be good results.
Now, onto grades.
John Konchar: 18 points (7-10 shooting, 2-4 from deep), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, +/- of +36, 26 minutes (Grade: A+)
Dude, John Konchar!
What an electric performance from the man who originated the term “Jitty.” Konchar entered the rotation for the Detroit game, as Coach Jenkins had to work a 10-man rotation that didn’t have a frontcourt logjam. Since then, he’s been making plays all over the court and turning in consecutive career performances.
In this game in particular, he did an excellent job of running the floor, taking advantage of his spots in the half-court offense, and crashing the glass. His ability to be at the right place at the right time, without necessarily needing to dominate the ball, is an encouraging sign from someone taking fill-in minutes. It’s why he’s such a solid rebounder, playmaker, and defender off the bench. And when you factor in his newfound willingness to shoot 3’s, it makes him an interesting NBA rotation player.
Last night, Konchar continued to show why he has a spot in this league and what he could do when the opportunity presents itself. We’re seeing it, his teammates believe in him, and so does the coaching staff. Let’s get jitty into the play-in.
Ja Morant: 24 points (7-13 from shooting, 3-6 from 3), 7 rebounds, 8 assists, +/- of +11, 29 minutes (Grade: A)
Ja Morant didn't have that poppin’ superstar game — like the Minnesota game last week — but he possessed a key All-Star quality in this game. Poise.
From the jump, Morant had his foot on the glass, putting pressure on the defense by attacking the basket. He was methodical in the half court, just waiting for a sliver of a window to get a bucket or drop a dime. And that even spread to the defensive side of the ball, where he was locked in, communicating, and defending with edge.
It illustrates his patience, as it looked like he knew the mission and the stakes coming into the game, and just took care of business. This is the kind of outing we want to see from Ja Morant as a shooter, game-manager, and playmaker. He’s just such a fun player to watch when he gets rolling like this.
Also, it’s massive for Morant to get 29 minutes tonight, as he’s logged 30+ minutes in each of the past 7 games. This week, with 5 games off 6.5 days rest, it’s important for him to get any semblance of rest possible.
Dillon Brooks: 22 points (9-21 shooting, 2-9 from 3), 3 steals, 2 blocks, +/- of +6, 33 minutes (Grade: A-)
I was looking to give him a “B+” for his shot selection, but when you draw a “DILLON BROOKS YA HEAR ME” from the PA announcer, your grade belongs in the A’s.
His shot selection wasn’t the best — it’s been worse, but it’s been better. I did like that he was seeking more catch-and-shoot 3’s. Offensively, he did find a good flow in the 4th quarter. He was breaking down the defense well with the mid-range pull-up jumper, scoring 10 of his 22 points in the final period.
Where he earned such high marks is his individual defense on Luka Doncic. Coach Jenkins and Desmond Bane pointed out how great he was taking on this challenge — and the matchup data backs it up. He did a solid job staying physical with him and forcing him out of his comfort zone, while maintaining good communication with his teammates on that end as well.
Dillon Brooks, once again, showcased how he’s become a defense leader, a stopper, and an all-around ball of energy that gets this team rolling.
Tune in on Thursday as the Grizzlies take on the Sacramento Kings for a 2-game home series.