Memphis came in Vivint Arena Friday night looking to bounce back from their Wednesday night loss to the Utah Jazz. Mission accomplished, thanks in large part to much stronger 2nd and 3rd quarter performances. The Grizzlies went on a 52-27 scoring run in those two periods alone, with the work done heavily in the paint where Memphis won the night battle 44-34.
The referees appeared to be conducting some sort of in-game experiment tonight that quite frankly they should’ve made others aware of prior to tip-off. The referees seemed to blow the whistle at all the wrong times and didn’t offer the Grizzlies much charity despite the eager physical pace the game adopted early on due along with a lot of missed shots.
Memphis started out looking like everyone had received word that cuts were in order shortly after the game. The young Grizzlies struggled to move the ball early as most guys were trying to create their own shots or at least take an attempt when they got the ball. Players weren’t making those attempts early on. Desmond Bane was the catalyst for the evening as play improved along with John Konchar, but even the nifty play making of Bane didn’t get guys to knock down shots early and the Grizzlies fell behind by the end of the first quarter.
In response the Spurs were serving nothing but “Mid” (range) to start off as Joshua Primo and Devin Vassell came out swinging early and often. The 18 year old Primo didn’t show any lack of confidence as he started off hot getting whatever he wanted anywhere inside the arc. He eventually cooled off some after the opening period but still had a strong showing with 17 points, putting on a viewing of his surprisingly good scoring and play making ability. Primo seems like a gamer that comes to bring it and he showed folks why San Antonio drafted him 12th overall a couple of weeks ago in the NBA draft.
Devin Vassell a very talented shot creator by the way. He led all scorers this game with 27 points despite still losing the game. Vassell had to overcome some suffocating defense from Memphis to make 11 field goals on 30 attempts.
The “POINT BANE” game
Desmond Bane was a close second in scoring leaders with 24 points on 10/20 shooting, but he also made winning plays throughout the game. Despite shooting only 2/9 from deep, Desmond didn’t panic and try to force things when his strength of shooting wasn’t working early on. He remained efficient and calculated everywhere else inside the arc which led to him finishing at 50% from the field on a high volume of shots despite the Off night from downtown. “Point Bane” looked natural as a facilitator as he created smooth opportunities for himself and his teammates early and often, even if they weren’t making the shots early on.
Bane finished with five assists as well as six rebounds to give an all-around great showing. Desmond continues to look like the kid in youth league sports, that all of the opposing coaches demand a birth certificate for prior to the game.
Killian Tillie came in off the bench in the first quarter and immediately changed the momentum of the game with high energy plays and saves. “Kill Till” was blocking shots, snagging boards, hitting floaters, runners, dishing assists, and probably even kissing babies and everything else to get the party started for the Beale Street boys. Killian played great defense overall as well, despite a rough shooting evening overall where even though he shot 50% on 5/10 field goalshe made only a third of attempts from the charity stripe and was 0/4 from three-point land. Tillie made another strong argument to lock himself in for one of those last remaining spots on a very talented and deep Memphis Grizzlies roster.
Xavier Tillman played a hard fought 28 minutes. Tillman displayed his ability to defend very well in open space even against quick, athletic, shot creating, wings such as Devin Vassell. One particular play Tillman defended Vassell on the three point line. Vassell attempted a shimmy dribble to shake Tillman off but he held his ground stole the ball, then quickly dished it to a streaking Tillie who made the fast break finish. Now that’s some two-way play making.
Tillman earned a new nickname from me this game -” Big Boat” - because his floater game was on full display in the second and third quarters as he helped Memphis take control of the lead for the first time and thus the game. Tillman looks ready to be a full time starter next to his longtime buddy Jaren Jackson Jr this season if need be.
Tillman also nailed his only three-point attempt, made 5/6 of his Free throw attempts to finish the game with 14 points. “Big Boat” looked like a Summer League Goat like Bane as both are clearly a step ahead of the competition.
Sean McDermott didn’t shoot well as he only converted 5/14 attempts but he looked a lot better with the eye test, especially in comparison to his NBA rookie campaign. McDermott made several game saving plays, as he dove for loose balls that he not only saved but was able to somehow accurately quickly dish off before going out of bounds The pass still led to a made bucket! McDermott made plays like this for much of his 29:28 minutes on the floor this evening that played a heavy hand in the Grizzlies taking back this game.
Let’s get JITTY with it! Talk about a star performance - John Konchar made his mark despite scoring only 4 points on one made shot out of six attempts. Jitty looked excellent sharing “point” duties with Desmond Bane. He made some great moves and dripped saucy passes all over the court which lead to his five assists. He was dishing behind the back, hitting skip pass assists on inbound plays, and making sound decisions on open court fast break opportunities. Truth be told both Bane and Konchar would’ve finished with more than 5 assists a piece if the recipients of their passes were more efficient shooting and finishing.
Jitty & Bane both showed that they both maybe able potentially share “Point” duties together on the same unit if need be. I’ve been very pleased with these two handling the floor general duties thus far.