Take that for data.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Grizzlies kept the momentum going by winning their fifth straight game in a win over the Sacramento Kings, 107-106. The win also put the Grizzlies at a clean .500 at home for the season going 18-18. Now the Grizzlies look ahead to Sunday’s ‘Winner Takes the 8’ against Golden State.
When I saw the injury report with the Grizzlies starting lineup all out, I wasn’t too surprised, but was also a tad excited. First, you saw how deep the Grizzlies are, as 8 players were out, and De’Anthony Melton still came off the bench. Also, it gave some of the guys who don’t play often, some decent run in regular season action.
Things were ugly at times, but all that matters is the end result. The game provided a nice sweat there, and even put the undefeated streak of Grizzlies play-by-play announcer Pete Pranica’s “Hammer, Nail, Coffin” call in jeopardy.
Nonetheless, there were a lot of good things to come out of the Grizzlies win, including a career night from a player who has fallen out of favor to part of the fan base.
Let’s get to the Report Card:
Justise Winslow (25 points (9-19 from the field, 4-6 3PT), 13 rebounds, 4 assists) --- A-
This is by far the best game we have seen from Justise in his short run as a Grizzly. He looked comfortable on the floor and let the game come to him. There were still a few times where he got sloppy with the ball and had a bad shot or two, but I’ll take that for what we got from him everywhere else.
The anti-Winslow crowd was pretty quiet tonight, but it’s going to take more performances similar to this to convince the doubters. But this did give a glimpse into why the Grizzlies may want to pick up Winslow’s option next season to see exactly what they have in him. I know that Winslow’s playing time has been frustrating to many, but it’s obvious that the front office is all about data accumulation this year. This is one of those games where the front office has to be happy about the data they collected.
There are several possible reasons to why Winslow played much better than we’ve seen so far this season. The pressure was off, as he wasn’t competing for minutes; he knew he was going to play a lot. Another potential reason – he was put into a position to succeed by Taylor Jenkins, unlike when he was thrust into the backup PG role.
If the Grizzlies have to call on Winslow in either the play-ins or the playoffs, hopefully we get play that’s similar to this, rather than what we’ve seen earlier in the season.
John Konchar (15 points (5-7 from the field, 2-4 3 PT), 5 rebounds, 1 assist --- A
Jitty just gets it done. I almost put Killian Tillie in this spot, but Konchar earned himself an A. He was efficient in his 22 minutes and always stayed active. He can be that energy guy off the bench you need, but that would be disrespectful to Jitty. He brings so much more than that, and it seems like he is in the right place at the right time.
I know Konchar is pretty far down on the Grizzlies depth chart, but the way he has played over the last two weeks, at the least has earned more minutes for next season.
De’Anthony Melton (10 points (2-6 from the field, 1-5 3PT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks --- B
Take a look at the game film and the box score and ‘Mr. Do-Something’ lived up to his nickname; he stuffed the stat sheet. So, why the underwhelming grade – he stayed in his shooting slump.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what Melton brings to the table when he is on the court – he’s a Swiss-army knife of contribution. The one part of his game that the Grizzlies will need most in the upcoming week is his shooting.
I was hoping that Melton would have an opportunity to try and shoot himself out of his slump --- he’s shot less than 40 percent from the field in 11 of his last 15 games and has hit double figures twice. Unfortunately, he struggled once again, especially from deep. The Grizzlies are going to need all the firepower they can get against Golden State.
If Desmond Bane proves to have a hot hand off the bench, it will be interesting to see where Jenkins minutes go and if he rather have Bane’s shooting or Melton’s defense.
All in all, I think it was a success for the future of Grizzlies in their win over Sacramento. But I do slightly worry on the immediate future of the Grizzlies. The good far outweighs the bad though. Xavier Tillman was fantastic, and Killian Tillie showed that he can provide solid minutes when he has to.
I did want to see more out of Desmond Bane, Tyus Jones, and De’Anthony Melton. Those three guys could potentially play major minutes against Golden State. They combined to shoot 7-23 from the field and 1-11 from 3. The Grizzlies and Warriors are in the top half of the league in scoring, averaging the exact same points per game (113.6), so they will have to keep up.
Next Up: Sunday in San Francisco against the Golden State Warriors at 2:30 PM.