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Report Card: Grizzlies flash greatness in win over Clippers

The Memphis Grizzlies took care of business.

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Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The “next man up” mentality lives on for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Steven Adams is now in health and safety protocols. Ja Morant was out due to thigh soreness, and Dillon Brooks left with an ankle injury midway through the 1st half. Nonetheless, the team stepped up to deliver a stellar two-way performance — crashing the glass for 56 rebounds, swarming for blocked shots, and playing with great pace. It was a collective effort spearheaded by Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane.

The “next man up” mantra sped on to the coaching staff as well, as head coach Taylor Jenkins became the 14th NBA head coach to enter health and safety protocols. Brad Jones did a great job filling in for him, sticking to the gameplan and keeping his team weathering the storms of early hot shooting and an injury to Brooks.

Yesterday’s win was truly remarkable, and it encapsulates the team’s fantastic play on both ends over the past month and a half. It also extended the Grizzlies winning streak to 8 games, which ties a franchise record.

Anyways, grades.

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Jaren Jackson Jr.: 26 points (7-17 from the field, 2-6 from 3, 10-10 from the FT line), 8 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals, 3 assists, +/- of +31 in 29 minutes (Grade: A+)

Alright, so here are the players that have had at least 25 points, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals, 3 assists, while shooting 100% from the free throw line on 10+ attempts in a single game: David Robinson, Shawn Kemp, and Jaren Jackson Jr.

He was absolutely dominant.

Without Steven Adams, Jackson had to step in as the full-time 5, manning all his minutes there. Sure, people want to ask about how rebounding goes with that, given that his rebounding numbers are low for a 7-footer. He answered the call quite emphatically, even against a traditional center like Ivica Zubac.

To get the rebounding bit out the way, Jackson finished with 8 rebounds in the game. Good things right there. Offensively, his game was extremely balanced. He found his groove from outside, drilling 2 of his 6 three-pointers. He was also aggressive attacking the basket, seeking mismatches down low and getting to the line.

Defensively though, my lord...Jackson was unbelievable in the middle. He maintained great activity to generate 3 steals. His defense shined through his resounding 5 blocks. He truly anchored the defense and made life hell for the Clippers down low.

Jaren Jackson Jr. has been awesome on the defensive end this year, and two-way performances like tonight showcase his tantalizing upside. Also, if there was a statement game made for Jackson’s All-Defensive Team campaign, it’s this one.

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Desmond Bane: 23 points (9-15 shooting, 5-8 from 3), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, +/- of +29 (Grade: A)

In the 3rd quarter, Bane had a sequence that followed this pattern.

  • Straight-away 3
  • Transition layup
  • Steal, transition 3

It was an 8-point sequence that encompassed the growth and the swagger Desmond Bane has been playing with this season. His 3-point prowess has been evident since his days at TCU, and now in this “let it fly” system, Bane is just firing 3’s in all manners in year 2. He’s going off the dribble, in transition, with defenders nearby. It doesn’t matter, he’s going to score more often than not.

The confidence he’s playing with has been clear, and it’s been a big proponent of his breakout this year. Another thing that has been a factor in his performance thus far is how he’s adding value in other areas of the game — defense, playmaking, positional rebounding.

Bane’s growth as a player continues to be one of the most fascinating storylines on the season for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Brandon Clarke: 18 points (6-9 from the field, 6-9 from the FT line), 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, +/- of +17 in 28 minutes (Grade: A)

Brandon Clarke has bounced back. As predicted. It’s almost like recovery time in a weird pandemic season with very little turnaround time between games affect how someone navigates injury.

Clarke had his second-best game of the season, with his breakout performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves like coming in first. He put on an awesome showing on both sides of the ball in the paint. He and Jackson were menacing inside, as Clarke too was a factor blocking shots (3 blocks).

Clarke also showed off his prowess as a roller, leading to a flurry of easy shots, including a monster alley-oop play from Jaren Jackson Jr. in the first half.

It’s great to see Brandon Clarke emerge back into the rotation player as an impact player, after a sophomore slump. He should never fall out of the rotation again. He’s too impactful to winning basketball.

Quick Grades

  • De’Anthony Melton (B-): De’Anthony Melton couldn’t get anything going offensively, only hitting 2 of his 12 shots. However, his value added as a playmaker, rebounder, and defender bump him up to a good grade here. You can impact the game without scoring, kids.
  • Tyus Jones (B): Tyus Jones once again did a great job running the offense with Morant out of the lineup. Though the outside shot wasn’t falling, he relied on the floater to generate a good dose of offense inside the arc (8-11 on 2’s).
  • Ziaire Williams (B): Ziaire Williams continues to look more comfortable since his return from injury and health and safety protocols. He was finding his teammates more and gambling less defensively. It’s been good to see him show some flashes.
  • Killian Tillie (B+): Killian Tillie earned his main-roster conversion deal with hard-nosed defense and with the intangibles. However, his outside shot wasn’t really falling. It was great to see him finding the bottom of the net on his 3’s today, connecting on 3 of his 4 three’s.

It was a great win. Now, let’s see if they can continue their winning ways against a streaking Los Angeles Lakers team.

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