The Grizzlies were in a dog fight of sorts for the first half with a Spurs team that allowed Memphis to get off to a 0-9 start for the game. They called a timeout at that point and got the game tied back up almost immediately. Ja Morant started off hot with 17 first-half points, as Bane struggled in the first half 3-12 and 0-5 from three-point territory. The good thing is the Grizzlies had over 15 assists for the first half, so the ball movement was there, just had to get more shots.
The Spurs start off the second half on a 7-0 run before Desmond Bane nailed a pull-up fadeaway where he got fouled but missed the extra free throw. However, it wasn’t long before the Grizzlies took a double-digit lead after being down six to the Spurs on the third period.
They kept that momentum rolling in the fourth to maintain the margin of victory they finished with and continue to send a message to the Western Conference.
Memphis ain’t someone to play with!
Ja Morant: 32 minutes/ 30 points/ 8 assists/ 6 rebounds/ +15
Ja Morant got off to a hot start with 17 points at the half way mark. Ja had a double-digit scoring quarter in the third period as he chipped in another 11 points. That left handed alley oop he threw was just more validation of his court vision. Ja looked every bit of the floor general he is, as he moved the ball around and looked to get others going despite many of the starters getting off to slow shooting starts.
Morant has really taken his defense up a few notches lately as he has been the best wing defender on the team for several games now since returning. He’s picking up in perfect timing on pick n roll, he’s not getting caught too far away from his matchup, & he’s doing a great job contesting every shot he defends.
He was in attack mode all night for another 30 point performance that was not too far away fro a triple-double. The Mane is on a mission this season. That alley-oop pass from the left hand was CRAZY. No one mane should have all that drip!
Respect his fresh, as Kia Shine said tonight during the halftime performance.
Desmond Bane: 31 minutes/ 17 points/ 4 rebounds/ 3 assists/ +6
Bane really struggled in the first half, especially from deep. Desmond started off 0-6 before making his first three-point shot. Good thing is he remained confident and kept shooting which lead to him eventually putting together a decent performance. One way he was able to do that was taking the ball to the rim for higher percentage shots to get himself rolling. Scorers think of smart ways to make it happen at some point. He got caught lacking a few a times on defense, but it wasn’t too costly as he stayed in the black and they got the win.
Kyle Anderson: 24 minutes/ 4 points/ 4 rebounds/ 2 assists/ -4
“Slo Mo” was worse than no mo tonight. His defense has taken a dip overall this season, and tonight was no different. Kyle was a blatant defensive liability, as he allowed San Antonio wings to have their way early on. Not only that, but he barely made the stat sheet offensively, and he wasn’t even enough of a threat to use as a playmaker, so he played off ball, essentially as an extra body.
Jaren Jackson Jr: 31 minutes/ 12 points/ 11 rebounds/ 3 assists/ 3 blocks/ 2 steals/ -1
“Trip” had one of his best games of the season tonight in a game he struggled offensively. I will say he had some unlucky bounces a couple of times that could’ve easily been converted if the wind blew harder. Despite the rough luck he truly showed evolution in his game tonight.
What was so impressive was how active Jaren was despite his off shooting night. Jaren was a monster at times as he crashed the boards, altered shots and blocked anything in his vicinity. He also made some nice passes that resulted in assists. His +/- was a -4, but that’s more so because of his shooting struggles although he did get beat a couple of times.
Steven Adams: 26 minutes/ 12 points/ 13 rebounds/ 3 assists/ +4
Steven Adams continues to silence the naysayers. In my eyes, he continues to make that trade flat out highway robbery to the benefit of Memphis. Adams was sound defensively as he was able to keep pace with a small Spurs lineup, using his size to his advantage in the paint activities. He continues to prove himself to be one of the more underrated passing big men of today with several assists off of great passing every game now, without ever allowing the ball to go below his neck. He took advantage of east scoring opportunities and putbacks were included. Kudos to Adams for being everything the Grizzlies could’ve imagined and more thus far.
Tyus Jones: 28 minutes/ 18 points/ 4 rebounds/ 4 assists/ 2 steals/ +12
What can I say, Tyus came to play in “The showdown of the Jones Brothers New Year’s Eve edition.” Tyus and Tre seemed to be competing even when they weren’t on the floor together. Both put up double digit games & helped their respective bench units make large contributions to the game. Tyus was aggressive, alert confident and active. He knocked down shots from deep, converted on drives to the rim, got others involved with his Playmaking. Hell, he even hustled up on a hand full of rebounds being active, alert and aggressive. His defense was sound as well as he made it really hard for his matchups when he defended them, and he played great team defense sealing off east shot attempts.
This is how Tyus should look damn near every night. He has every bit of potential to do so no matter who is on the court.
Brandon Clarke: 22:38 minutes/ 17 points/ 9 rebounds/ 2 assists/ 2 blocks/ +9
“BC” was clearly one of the best players in the floor tonight. His energy level was off the charts. He made hustle plays & gave off great body language on the court that bodes over well with teammates. He was so active and productive the entire way, I was shocked to see he only played just under 23 minutes. Brandon was a force to be reckoned with on both ends. He finished nearly every single shot he was given for 17 points, as he was the recipient of some highlight reel passing from “12.” And he was a pest on defense in terms of his positioning and being in the right places at the right moments. Great to see him active, aggressive and so energetic.
REST OF THE GUYS:
It’s always a pleasure to get first quarter Santi Aldama appearances, and he made this one productive right away. Aldama knocked down a catch n shoot bucket from deep in his first attempt and was active as always. Tillie made a few shots and plays but continues to impress with his defense of nothing else.
Taylor Jenkins has this team rolling like the well oiled machine it has become. This team is loaded with talent, but he’s certainly making sure it doesn’t disappoint often, if ever these days. No matter who is out, it’s been a “next man up” mentality. Jenkins has shown he isn’t afraid to audition guys, so nearly everyone will get a fair shake at some point, especially with the way COVID has swept through the availability list.
Give him the Coach Of The Year, please.
GRADE - A+