In the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration game, the Memphis Grizzlies were looking to avenge their Friday night loss in efforts to kickstart a new winning streak. On the other side were the Eastern Conference leading Chicago Bulls.
Well, a shell of them.
The Bulls were missing Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso in this one due to injuries, and it really gutted the team’s depth. However, with DeMar DeRozan (a MVP candidate) and Nikola Vucevic still in the fold, you couldn’t count them out.
Both teams started out slow. The Memphis Grizzlies’ defense was stellar, but they couldn’t get anything to go offensively. However, they flipped a switch in the 2nd quarter to generate a sizable gap from the Bulls, scoring 38 points in the period. That momentum carried with them throughout the whole game, as they maintained a comfortable advantage the rest of the way.
The Grizzlies did what great teams do: take care of business on their home court and against inferior competition. And they went viral while doing so.
Let’s do some grades.
Desmond Bane: 25 points (10-17 shooting, 3-7 from 3), 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, +/- of +13 (Grade: A)
It looks like Desmond Bane read your jokes about his road/home splits. In case you haven’t heard, people have pointed out how Bane shoots significantly better on the road than he does at home. Prior to today’s game, he’s shot 53% from the field and 51% from 3 on the road, while shooting 40.7% and 32.9% at home. Very stark contrast.
Well, Bane was feeling it today. His charge in the 1st half really helped the Grizzlies get out of their offensive slug, scoring 19 of his 25 points in that span. He scored in a variety of ways — firing from 3, active off-ball movement, and in the mid range.
As Desmond Bane has been one of the trendy picks for the Most Improved Player award, today was a good statement game for that case. More eyes got a look at the body of work he’s delivered this season, and the Desmond Bane Island will get more crowded as a result.
Tyus Jones: 11 points (4-8 from the field, 1-2 from 3), 8 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, +/- of +26 in 20 minutes (Grade: A)
You will find it to be quite a challenge to find another backup point guard better than Tyus Jones.
He continues his stellar play this season by dictating the pace and using the “pick your poison” of his floater and his playmaking to destroy benches. With the team started off slow offensively, his performance running the offense helped this team find their stride and ultimately separate themselves from the Bulls pretty early. That’s evident through his smashing game-high plus-minus of +26.
Tyus Jones is no longer a trade asset. His value as an asset is through his wicked playmaking and his ability to dictate the pace of the game. That in return could lead to a potential promotion as a starter for another team. He’s earned it.
Steven Adams: 2 points (1-3 shooting), 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, +/- of +8 in 23 minutes (Grade: B+)
Steven Adams went viral by carrying another grown man — one his size too! — away from an altercation. That was hilarious. He’s a national treasure that needs to be protected at all costs.
Tony Bradley wouldn’t let go of Ja Morant so Steven Adams picks him up and carries him away pic.twitter.com/GbQ74kMEpt— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) January 17, 2022
Adams also reintroduced himself after missing 4 games in health and safety protocols by doing the things he does that add to winning. He crashed the glass well (10 rebounds, 4 offensive), dropped dimes (6 assists), and neutralized Nikola Vucevic (2-13 shooting).
Even without scoring, and aside from making opposing NBA centers look like stuffed animals, Steven Adams’ impact on this team has been pretty cool this season. This game was just another example.
- A sigh of relief with Jaren Jackson Jr. In the 2nd quarter, Jaren Jackson Jr. banged knees with Tony Bradley, and he was down on the floor for a bit. When he limped back into the locker room, you can feel a deflation in the energy. However, he came back and looked just fine. His defensive presence was incredible, swatting away 5 shots and only tallying 2 fouls. His offense wasn’t quite there, but his defense made up for it. (Grade: B)
- De’Anthony Melton gets his swagger back. Melton had struggled quite a bit offensively over the past several games, dating back even before his hiatus in health and safety protocols. He returned to his “do something” ways and found his touch from the outside too, connecting on 3 of his 4 triple tries. This De’Anthony Melton is impactful to winning basketball, and he’s going to be crucial for this team with Dillon Brooks out. (Grade: A)
- Ziaire Williams, showing up’s and down’s. Ziaire Williams had been a different player since his return from injury. However, he did show his age a bit in this game. The game looked too fast for him, and he made quite a few mistakes as well. It’s okay, though. Part of the process of development. (Grade: C-)
- Brandon Clarke’s hyper-efficiency. Brandon Clarke was money from the field, and he was a mismatch for the Bulls’ bench with his athleticism. This game just encapsulates his return to remarkable shooting efficiency, as he’s shooting roughly 65% from the field. (Grade: A)
- Call 12. Ja Morant didn’t have his game going full force in the 1st three quarters. However, he picked up and put the Bulls away in the 4th quarter, scoring 9 points in the period and also pulled off an awesome 360 layup. (Grade: B)