Damn, is this fun.
From the tip, the result of this game was as in doubt as the Royal Rumble was once Brock Lesnar’s music hit.
One night after a hard fought win to secure the season series against the Utah Jazz, the Grizzlies came out all business to go 2-0 in back-to-back home games.
This type of dominant performance is the reason the Grizzlies continue to gain respect as a legitimate title contender. Not only do the Grizzlies have the ‘next man up’ mentality, but they also possess the ‘no days off’ mentality as well. We’ve seen time and time again really good teams get a nice win and then come out flat the next game. Not the Grizzlies — they were the better team on the court and at no time did it feel like that wasn’t the case.
Once again, Head Coach Taylor Jenkins was rolling out a different starting lineup than the night before due to Ziaire Williams being out with knee soreness. John Konchar filled that role and provided nice minutes as the Grizz didn’t skip a beat.
I could go on and on about how amazing the jump this team has made and they still haven’t peaked, nor played too many games at full strength. But instead, I’ll hand out some grades in the 115-95 win over Washington.
Ja Morant: 34 points (15-27 FG, 4-8 3PT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steals — A
Fresh off a triple-double, ‘Big 12’ turns in another incredible performance. Ja set the tone early scoring the game’s first five points on his way to 34 total points — the sixth game in a row where he has scored at least 30 points. Ja got 22 of those points in the paint, and maybe the most impressive thing is he scored all his points *without* attempting a single free throw.
Ja now sits at 9th in the league in scoring at 26.1 points per game, one spot ahead of Steph Curry.
Once again, Ja was able to do whatever he wanted and filled up his own highlight reel with a handful of spectacular lay-ups, and of course that thunderous windmill dunk on the fast break following the Bane block.
DeAnthony Melton: 13 points (5-18 FG, 3-8 3 PT), 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist — B-
‘Mr. Do Something’ maybe did a little bit too much at times for the Grizz. Melton can be streaky at times, as was evident in that 8 of his 13 points came in a minute and seven second span in the second quarter. Besides that little run, Melton went 2 for 15 the rest of the game.
Melton has put together some pretty solid games leading up to this one. While it wasn’t a bad game all around, it was a bad shooting night. The great thing about Melton is that if he isn’t shooting well, he is still going to give you something — tonight it was 7 rebounds and some solid defense. On that rebounding note, Melton, who is listed at 6’2” is averaging 7.0 rebounds a game over his last five games.
Steven Adams: 10 points (4-7 FG), 15 rebounds (10 offensive), 4 assists, 3 blocks — A
When the Grizzlies traded Jonas Valancius and received back Adams, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work. Yes, I know there were other reasons for that trade, but was slightly concerned for the immediate future. That worry is gone.
Adams was a beast on the glass against Washington. On possessions where Adams grabbed an offensive rebound, the Grizzlies scored 16 second-chance points in total. That’s nearly the entire difference on the scoreboard.
Adams fits perfectly with the way this team is built — he doesn’t have to get his every night, or even at all. He knows his role and he thrives in it, while letting everyone else on the team get theirs. That is huge for this young team and one of the big reasons why this team is once again ahead of their timeline as they continue to build.
Final Grade: A-
It was pretty much a complete game for the Grizzlies as they led wire-to-wire. There were times in the second half where it felt like Washington may try and make a comeback, but the Grizz shut that door pretty quickly. That’s the sign of a confident and mature team. So, while they may be young, they know what it takes to win.
Jaren Jackson Jr. had another game with multiple blocks, while also registering two steals. Trip struggled from the field, going 3-10, but was huge on the other end.
And Desmond Bane looks like he is back to normal after exiting health and safety protocols last week. He is a pure scorer that at times, just like Ja, feels like he can get whatever he wants.
As the Grizzlies continue to compete for that home court advantage, it feels like even though we are in January, these last two wins were very important. One secures a season series against Utah, who sits one place behind you. The other against Washington is big because the Grizz hit the road again for a three-game road trip.
Next Up: Monday night at Philadelphia — Tip Time 6 PM