A TNT televised game in the peak of the afternoon on Beale St. on a federal holiday, courtesy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It does not get any better. MLK Day games have become a memory of their own. They’ve become a staple on this day in Memphis and for the Grizzlies. These games now create a certain energy that contributes to the celebratory atmosphere in honor of today. Drake would say it’s God’s Plan that the current era of the Memphis Grizzlies is the perfect mixture of excitement, youthful creativity, & buzz to help with the balance to commemorate our nation’s history.
As Black History Month approaches in February, hopefully we all take the time to learn 28 different things about Black history. If for nothing else, let’s do so to better equip ourselves with more education & understanding of the world we live in today for better or worst. We can get a head start on such, simply by learning something from today’s halftime activities.
To the game. Memphis gets off to a slow start as Chicago scores the game’s first five points. Memphis then responded to the Bulls punch by going on a 8-0 run themselves to take the lead & build momentum. The two teams ended up trading basket attempts as neither could get a scoring rhythm going most of the first quarter. As the reserves came in, Brandon Clarke started his scoring off with a slip & roll to the basket for an alley-oop finish that resulted in an and one opportunity.
Both teams struggled shooting as they finish the first quarter tied up 20-20. Memphis fails to score from deep in the opening period as they go 0-7 from three point range. Overall they shot only 9-27 from the field, which puts them only a tad over 31%. Memphis did however force Chicago to commit eight first quarter turnovers so the effort is there & the shots will soon follow.
To open the second quarter, “Trip” immediately ended the Grizzlies burner struggles with his two-way play making. He forced a missed shot at the rim with the help of Brandon Clarke. As Memphis secures the rebound, Jaren trails De’Anthony Melton & floats to the left hash where he nails a long range bucket off of Melton’s assist. This sparked a 10-3 run for Memphis before Chicago called a timeout down seven points. Desmond Bane started to get the party started with a quick five points in that sequence.
Shortly after, Jaren collided near the basket with one Bulls player Alonzo McKinnie & injured his knee in the process. He was unable to put much weight on the knee & left the game as a result. He did return back to the bench almost immediately and re-entered the game, however.
Memphis went on a 16-0 run before Chicago’s Malcolm Hill nailed a three to stop some of the bleeding. The Memphis size started to become overwhelming as they began to dominate the glass & interior. Memphis was now up double digits at this point & the offense was rolling. They closed out the first half with Ja Morant feeding a slashing Brandon Clarke for a quick buzzer beater for two points and yes, it counted. Kenny Smith also highlighted the Grizzlies spacing, pace & ball movement at halftime. Coincidently Desmond Bane was the featured player of this ball movement breakdown as “The Jet” compare me the Grizzlies ball movement to the legendary teams of the 90’s. Steven Adams had 4 offensive rebounds. In general he grabbed 10 boards, total along with his six assists & two steals by halftime! And amazingly Charles Barkley is a fan of Brandon Clarke, Desmond Bane & John Konchar.
The second half saw more of Memphis dominance & size advantage. Memphis went on a 23-11 run the last 6 minutes to close out the third quarter with a 20 point lead. The fourth quarter saw a few tense moments as Chicago got frustrated with the blowout in progress. As Ja Morant looked to take Tony Bradley off the dribble to the rim, Tony Bradley appeared to intentionally stick his leg out to stop Ja from blowing past him. Ja Morant collided with him as a result & showed his displeasure with Bradley’s antics. Ja then shoved the ball in his chest & Bradley grabs Morant’s jersey before Bradley was picked up like a drunk at the club & escorted away by Steven Adams, who single handily defused the situation from getting worse.
Chicago scored a few buckets at the end to have some pride about the score as they reduced a 20+ point lead down to 13 point victory as the final score ended up being 119-106 thanks to the likes of Ja Morant & Desmond Bane who both lead the Grizzlies in scoring with 25 points a piece followed by Brandon Clarke who finished with 15 points off the bench.
Memphis is back in action Wednesday night as they kick off a four-game road trip against the defending NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks.