The Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks squared off in a late local tip-off of 9PM CST. Because of the ESPN broadcast of the Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors game in Chicago, this contest was pushed to the late time slot. Is it late? Yes. Is it okay because it’s a national game with more exposure to America’s team, the Memphis Grizzlies? Also yes.
We got an interesting foil to the lineup prior to this one. Steven Adams returned from “health and safety protocols,” and even in his return, he wasn’t back in the starting lineup. The coaching staff decided to roll with Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. alongside Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Ziaire Williams. That duo has been extremely productive together — +20 net rating in 494 possessions together, per Cleaning the Glass — and both Clarke and Jackson have been performing quite well in this recent run.
If you want a potential glimpse at the future, he’s your chance.
To start the game, we got a good flurry of offense from the Grizzlies, jumping out to a 14-8 start in the first 5 and a half minutes. The roof about blew off the FedExForum when the Grizzlies got on the board with a Ja Morant and Ziaire Williams alley oop. Williams also connected on a corner 3 as well, continuing his showcase as a specialist from that spot on the floor. The newly-starting Brandon Clarke also hit 2 three’s — getting fouled on one of those shots too. The new bench unit of Tyus Jones, De’Anthony Melton, John Konchar, Kyle Anderson, and Steven Adams held down the fort, as the Grizzlies had a 29-25 lead after the 1st quarter.
The 2nd quarter wasn’t super riveting in action. Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. got into their groove, but there were a lot of missed shots on both sides in the period. Dallas, in particular, had a possession with 4 offensive rebounds and 5 missed perimeter shots. It was a tough scene. Things got a bit chippy in the 2nd quarter. John Konchar had gotten smacked in the face going for a rebound, and then Ja Morant and Maxi Kleber had some words on the other side after a foul from the Mavericks big man. The second quarter ended with some fireworks. Jaren Jackson Jr. pinned one of Luka Doncic’s shots up against the glass, leading to an and-1 from Desmond Bane. Ja Morant also had 2 incredibly shifty acrobatic finishes, one being an and-1 as well, as the Grizzlies went into halftime with a 55-50 lead.
The 3rd quarter started sloppy. The Grizzlies couldn’t get buckets, and their defense was pretty lackluster. The Mavericks jumped out on them and went on a 22-4 run midway through the 3rd quarter. The Mavericks ended up leading 84-73 towards the end of the 3rd quarter.
The drought continued for the Grizzlies, and the Mavericks kept attacking in the halfcourt. There were just a lot of shots that were short and had bad bounces. The Grizzlies pulled the rotation guys out with roughly 5 minutes left en route to a 112-85 Mavericks win.
It just wasn’t their night. They ran out of gas.
- This team was tired, and all good things must come to an end. Never losing again and finishing with a 68-14 record would’ve been awesome, but it’s the NBA, so it’s not going to happen. This team has had an unbelievable run, but the slate of games caught up with them — 8 games in 12 nights, in case you didn’t see from the numerous tweets on the timeline. It happens, and the sky’s not falling.
- New rotation thoughts? I really liked the rotation structure they had tonight. With Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke, they have their best 4/5 pairing out on the floor. When you factor in Kyle Anderson and Steven Adams, you have 1 perimeter big and 1 interior big at all times. In addition, there’s a legit quality center on the floor at all times — Adams should eat against opposing bench bigs, by the the way. One thing they’ll need to fix is making sure they have enough of a scoring punch when they run Bane, Jackson and Clarke off the floor. Melton figuring it out would help, but there are some staggering stuff they could fix there. All in all, it’s a good start towards an intriguing permanent rotation.
The Grizzlies will return to action Monday afternoon at 2:30 PM CST to face the Chicago Bulls in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration game.