Never, ever, doubt Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks when the lights are bright.
Nearly 10 years after the Grit ‘N’ Grind Grizzlies broke through to their first playoff win, the current iteration of the Memphis Grizzlies shocked the Donovan Mitchell-less Utah Jazz 112-109 on the road in game one of Western Conference quarterfinals. Dillon Brooks dominated the third quarter and had 31 points and 7 rebounds for the game, and Ja Morant owned the fourth and had 26 points total as the Grizzlies sent an emotional statement to both the Jazz and the rest of the league.
The first half was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. Between Kyle Anderson shoving an inactive Donovan Mitchell and Dillon Brooks literally head-butting Mike Conley, the game seemed like a ticking time tomb in many ways.
The Grit ‘N’ Grind Grizzlies were obviously known for their, well, gritty and rugged style of play, and the current Grizzlies seemed dead-set on doing their absolute worst impression of them. They led 21-17 with just over 4 minutes to go in the first quarter and then proceeded to forget how to play basketball, going scoreless for the next 7 minutes. But through opportunistic defense (8 steals in the half) and impressive shot-making from Dillon Brooks (15 points in the half), the Grizzlies clawed their way to taking a 49-43 lead at halftime.
It was the third quarter, of course, when Dillon Brooks showed the Mamba mentality, scoring 14 points in the frame off a multitude of off-balanced jumpers. Desmond Bane hit a deep three to give the Grizzlies a 79-70 lead going into the fourth.
And it was the fourth when Ja Morant took the reigns from Brooks, scoring 8 straight points down the stretch of the 4th quarter against a Jazz team that lacked rim protection since Rudy Gobert fouled out with about 4 minutes remaining. Bogan Bogdanovic, who scored 24 points in the second half after not scoring in the first half, missed a potential game-tying three at the buzzer to give the Grizzlies the victory.
Former Grizzly Mike Conley finished with 22 points and 11 assists, and Jonas Valanciunas finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Game 2 will be in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night. But until then, the sweep is still alive.