I prayed last night wouldn’t be remembered as the J.B. Bickerstaff revenge game. Memphis is not only a stop in his career, but Bickerstaff’s Cavaliers have lost four of the last six coming into tonight vs. a Memphis team looking to win five straight.
This game was a fight the entire way. The Grizzlies were down eleven at one point in the second quarter.
“12”: 33:40 Minutes/26 points/ 5 rebounds/ 6 assists/ 2 steals/ 2 blocks/ +5 +/-/ 8.9 Net Rating
Ja Morant is 80’s Jordan. That’s it, that’s the report card on him.
DESMOND BANE: Minutes: 34:39/ 11 points/ 7 assists/ 5 rebounds/ +5 +/- 3.8 Net rating
Desmond Bane or “D-Money” as Michael Wallace fondly refers to him, was huge in keeping Memphis in the game early on as he was the first Grizzlies player to get his scoring really going to start the game. He barely eclipsed double digit scoring last night with only 11 points.
However, it was more because of the attention defenses are starting to throw Bane’s way now that he’s scoring force. He did most of his scoring in the first half but it was crucial in keeping his team in the game.
Bane didn’t do much scoring in the second half. He used his improved gravity pull to get his teammates hood shots as he dished out seven assists. His game was pretty good all-around as he also chipped in one steal, grabbed five rebounds & two blocks to finish with a strong +5 +/- & a 3.8 Net rating.
Defensively he got caught a few times playing too far off of shooters like Lauri Markkanen who made Desmond pay when he did so. However overall he was decent enough to help seal the steal win from Cleveland in their gym.
KILLIAN TILLIE: 16:42 minutes/ 5 points/ 3 rebounds/ 1 assists/ -12+/-/ 30.7 NET rating
“KILL TILL” nearly killed his team’s chances of winning tonight & that’s not normal for a player of Tillie’s skill & understanding of the game. However it was the case in this game.
Tillie allowed “OG Fly By” Kevin Love to pump fake him completely off the floor from deep. Tillie would get caught out of position & Love made him pay nearly every time he defended him from deep. When he defended Lauri he got beat a few times inside the stripe. Tillie was easily the worst player on the Grizzlies in this one as he was lost at times & not locked in on his matchup. He also did not scrap for many winning plays. That said he did make a few decent reads & even knocked down a clutch bucket. He just needs to capitalize on his opportunity to prove worthy of & possibly extend that new two-year deal he just got.
JAREN JACKSON JR: 29:51 minutes/ 22 points/ 3 rebounds/ 1 steal/ 1 block/ -7+/-/ -9 NET rating
“Trip” had me worried the past few games as we all noticed his offensive production dip. Even in the first half I begin to get frustrated with Jaren’s struggle to finish.
However Jaren did not forsake his following as he piped up & took over the game as the third quarter progressed & finished the period with 22 points going into the fourth. Jaren picked up his fifth foul & had to sit for a few minutes to make sure he was available to play the final minutes. He checked back in & closed out the win.
Now his defense was solid but there were a couple of possessions he got beat trying to help. And the Memphis front court allowed Cleveland’s big men to each have huge games as all three of their front court starters got double-digit scoring.
Can Jaren put together a complete game of 20+ points, 7 rebounds & great defense consistently? That remains to be seen & until then the All-Star team will be waiting on his first selection.
STEVEN ADAMS: 32:50 minutes/ 5 points/ 11 rebounds/ 3 assists/ +2 +/-
Adams played a solid game as he used his size to move Cleveland’s front court guys around. Adams used his much improved footwork to make a great post move basket late in the game when his team needed it. He grabbed rebounds & played solid defense although his athletic shortcomings lead to Jarrett Allen having a field day inside using his athletic advantage over Adams. That said, Adams continued to make great plays & assists even down the stretch to help win the game.
How about BC! This mane has turned it up several notches this season in comparison to last year. Brandon cut baseline as the defense focused on “12” on the other side of the court. Ja saw Brandon & sent the special delivery. Brandon took flight before touching the paint & threw down the lob alley for a crucial basket in a tight game. He made the most of his minutes on offense & provided sound defense as well. Clarke comes back in on the last play & helps block the game winning shot attempt from outside!
Ty Ty was on his A game as he mixed it up with his scoring in an array of ways. From off foot floaters to layups & midrange shots, Tyus offense was rolling. His defense was solid as well as he was able to contain Garland keep his understudy & former Memphis Hustle player Brandon Goodwin in check as well. His play was huge late in the game as he was in the closing lineup.
ZIAIRE WILLIAMS: 13 minutes/ 10 points/ +2 +/-
Ziaire Williams finally returned from injury & COVID, to have a damn good game in the minutes he received. Grizzlies culture is clearly rubbing off on Ziaire. He has become noticeably more fearless on both ends of the floor. When he got touches outside he knocked down the long range shots & was on fire in his 13 minutes played.
SANTI ALDAMA: 12 minutes/ 2 points/ 3 rebounds/ +13 +/-
Santi scored the less points of Grizzlies players in this game against Cleveland. Aldama also had the game highest +/- again. This speaks volumes about his improvement defensively, as well as his timing & speed. He used his length to cause trouble, especially on Cleveland’s tall shooters outside. He ran the floor well in transition & as a result was able to add to his highlight reel with another slam dunk off of a Ja Morant assist. Aldama is carving out a role as a hustler as he continues to work on getting his natural scoring potential unlocked.
I can’t wait to see Aldama once he gets his touch fully down. His activity & skill already is there to be a highly productive player.
Brad Jones made his NBA Head Coaching debut as Coach Jenkins attended the memorial service of his father in-law. Brad did a great job of holding the fort down in his absence. Brad didn’t show fear in his trust/use of his deep war chest. That’s despite Memphis being down 11 points early on. He stuck to the game plan of throwing different looks at Cleveland & wearing them down with physicality. Memphis eventually stole the game away on the road, versus a really good fifth seeded Cavs team. This was also on the second night of a back to back, down double digits at one time, & without Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton, or Kyle Anderson. And he held on in what was a fight down to the last seconds. Great debut as Grizzlies acting skipper from Jones.