clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Quick Recap: Grizzlies lock opening night win in overtime thriller over the Knicks

Merry Grizzmas from Ja, Santi, and Grz Nxt Gen!

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

New York Knicks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Opening night is finally here, and it was filled with plenty of fireworks.

The Memphis Grizzlies came into tonight’s game without Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, and Ziaire Williams — leaving the wing depth pretty depleted. John Konchar and Santi Aldama filled in for the opening night start.

The “next man up” mentality lives on.

Ja Morant set the tone early for the Grizzlies, sprinting out to a quick 12 points in the 1st quarter. He was attacking the basket relentlessly, resulting in either layups or trips to the free throw line. Santi Aldama showed early confidence offensively, as he knocked down a pair of triples — while also playing good defense. The Grizzlies’ offense was rather cold in the 1st quarter, as they shot 28.6% from the field and 4-12 (33%) from 3. However, they ended the first quarter with a 25-23 lead.

The Memphis Grizzlies found a better offensive groove in the 2nd quarter, scoring 36 points in the period. The 3-point shot fell for them, as they hit 7 triples — nearly doubling their first quarter total. Once they found their mojo from downtown, you can see the offensive flow trickle down through the system. The Grizzlies also stifled the Knicks to expand their halftime lead to 15 with a 61-46 lead.

Oh, and Ja Morant is still the league’s box-office draw.

The 3rd quarter was more of the same, but OH MY GOODNESS A SANTI ALDAMA SLAM.

The Knicks went on a run through the end of the 3rd period, closing the gap within as little as 5. The Grizzlies’ offense grew pretty stagnant, and the Knicks capitalized on it — trimming the lead with bully-ball basketball. The Grizzlies ended the 3rd quarter with a 85-79 lead.

The 4th quarter started with a bit of comedy, as Derrick Rose threw an errant pass that drilled Steven Adams — who was in the process of checking in the game — square in the noggin.

The game started to really get wild with about 3 and a half minutes. After a forced, ill-advised alley oop attempt from Morant to Konchar, the Jalen Brunson got a fastbreak layup to take the lead.

However, it was a loose ball foul on Randle that flipped the game momentarily. On a rebound attempt, he committed a foul on Santi Aldama — sending him to the line for 2 free throws. He missed the 2nd one after an initial make, but it led to a Ja Morant floater. Later, Morant had an isolation situation that resulted in a left-handed layup high off the glass to give them a 3-point lead.

However, the Grizzlies’ defense collapsed late, as Brunson drew help off the drive (did I mention Memphis was up 3?) and kicked it out to Reddish for an open 3.

Then, the Grizzlies had the golden play design to win the game, as their superstar point guard was in charge here.

Then there was a charge.

Both teams ended tied at 108 to go into overtime.

Overtime started out quite emphatically, as Ja Morant added to the highlight reel — this time with a cycle.

The rest of the period was more defense-oriented, as both teams combined for 11 points. Maybe out of gas? Who knows.

After two missed free throws from Tyus Jones, the Grizzlies generated the stop they needed to close the Knicks out 115-112.

New York Knicks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Quick Takeaways

  • Santi Aldama brought out some gifts for Grizzmas. The world met Santi Aldama tonight. The second-year forward earned the starting power forward nod in place of the injured Jaren Jackson Jr., and he did not let up. He’s radiating confidence on offense — letting the 3-ball fly, driving the ball to the tin, and making the correct reads. Defensively, his activity was great, as he hauled in 11 rebounds. Aldama made an emphatic impression in his first NBA regular season start, serving as another gem in the Grizzlies’ development pipeline. If his good play is sustainable, then there’s a cool dynamic untapped.
  • Let it fly, John Konchar. John Konchar attempted 1.8 three’s per game last season, and the message for him is to keep letting it fly. He hit a career-high 4 three-pointers, while also hoisting the most 3’s he has in a game (9). With De’Anthony Melton out of the fold, they need more shot aggression from Konchar, and tonight was a good glimpse of how a free Konchar could be unlocked.
  • “Home Game Bane.” Desmond Bane showed more on-ball juice in this game. He racked up 6 assists, but his shot efficiency left little to be desired. He connected on 6 of his 22 shots — and 3 of his 13 three-pointers. Shots often felt rushed in a sense, though he did have a few clean looks that simply didn’t fall. I wouldn’t expect him to continue shooting like this, but it wasn’t quite the powerful All-Star statement to kickstart the season from Bane. Something to monitor, he seemed to have gotten hurt towards the end of the game. Let’s hope the injury report doesn’t pile up with another key rotation player out.
  • Figuring out forward rotation. The Grizzlies coaching staff certainly had to adjust with the wing depth depleted for tonight’s game. The rotation was fine for the most part. Xavier Tillman wasn’t the right matchup for the taller Isaiah Hartenstein. David Roddy struggled on both sides of the ball. Brandon Clarke was put into a corner too much. Jake LaRavia showed some promise defensively, and also connected on a 3. The Grizzlies need to find the best way to optimize their forwards. My early suggestion: start Aldama and Adams -> LaRavia checks in for Aldama to keep the floor spaced out -> Clarke comes in for Adams to go small for a hot second -> then back to Santi to start the 2nd quarter. Those would be the best frontcourt pairings to best utilize the each forward and big man’s strengths.
  • Ja Morant is still him. Ja Morant continued his home opener heroics, scoring 34 points on 24 attempts and tallying 9 assists. He dazzled the crowd from start to finish. He habitually sliced his way through the defense as well. It’s always expected the spectacular — maybe even the unexpected with Morant — and tonight was an electrifying start to the 2022-23 season.

The Grizzlies travel to Texas for matchups against the Rockets and Mavericks Friday and Saturday this weekend.

For more Grizzlies talk, subscribe to the Grizzly Bear Blues podcast network on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and IHeart. Follow Grizzly Bear Blues on Twitter and Instagram.