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Report Card: The Grizzlies win their first preseason game in impressive fashion

A fun preseason game is all you can ask for and the young Grizzlies provided just that.

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Memphis Grizzlies v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies began their first preseason game for the 2022-2023 season without 9 players including Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Tyus Jones, Dillon Brooks, Steven Adams, and others. The starting lineup for this contest at the Milwaukee Bucks consisted of Kennedy Chandler, John Konchar, Ziaire Williams, Santi Aldama, and Brandon Clarke.

The Grizzlies got off to a slow start with 2 turnovers in the first 3 minutes leading to a quick 8-0 deficit. Santi Aldama got the scoring started by hitting a 3 followed by a Kennedy Chandler 3 to cut the deficit to 8-6. Santi Aldama showed off his playmaking with some impressive passes to John Konchar and Brandon Clarke on back-to-back possessions, one leading to a layup.

David Roddy got the bench scoring started with a 3 immediately after checking into the game and the defense turned up its intensity to get a transition bucket for the Grizzlies to take their first lead at 13-12. Kenny Lofton continued his impressive summer league play into the preseason by knocking down a 3 to help extend the lead to 18-12, and the Grizzlies lead at the end of the first 18-16.

The Bucks began the 2nd quarter by forcing and scoring off turnovers again to regain the lead at 24-22. At this point, the Bucks had scored 11 points off the Grizzlies’ turnovers. Ziaire Williams got his first bucket to get his offense going helping the Grizz to regain the lead at 27-24. The rest of the first half was back and forth leading to a 48-45 lead at the half for the Bucks.

The Grizzlies were outrebounded 29-18 in the first half leading to 14 2nd chance points for the Bucks who were playing their main big men rotation in Bobby Portis, Brook Lopez, and Serge Ibaka, The young Grizzlies held strong throughout the first half against a mostly veteran Bucks squad (minus Giannis and Khris Middleton). Ziaire Williams and Kenny Lofton lead the way with 10 points each and Santi Aldama had 9 points in the first half.

The Bucks sat Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez to start the 2nd half but they extended their lead to 10 points at 58-48. Former Grizzly Grayson Allen was leading the way for the Bucks with 15 points at that point. The Grizzlies fought back with the play of their veterans, John Konchar and Brandon Clarke, to cut the deficit to 58-54 but the Bucks used their defense to create transition opportunities to extend the lead back out to 10 midway through the 3rd quarter.

The Grizzlies’ first-round rookies, Jake LaRavia and David Roddy, showed some scrappiness to keep the Grizzlies at bay but after trailing by as many as 12, the deficit remained at 10 to end the 3rd quarter at 76-66.

The deficit would increase to 13 points to start the 4th quarter but the Grizzlies’ undrafted free agents Kenny Lofton and Justin Bean helped grit their way down to a 5-point deficit midway through the 4th quarter. Although Milwaukee kept extending their lead back close to double digits, the Grizzlies kept fighting back to eventually tie the game at 99 with 2 minutes remaining. Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, Kennedy Chandler, and Santi Aldama lead the charge down the stretch as the Grizzlies regained the lead with less than a minute remaining in the game before stealing the win 107-102.

This game showcased an impressive display of the young Grizzlies keeping their composure throughout and fighting until the end to come out on top.

Now let’s grade the performances:

NBA: Preseason-Memphis Grizzlies at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Ziaire Williams - B (11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, +1)

Ziaire Williams seemed to be mostly invisible to start the first quarter but got it going in the 2nd quarter to help lead the scoring for the Grizzlies at the half. His 2nd half was quiet, as the Grizzlies leaned more on the rookies to finish the game.

John Konchar - B (9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks)

John Konchar kept it “Jitty,” as his usual scrappy play gave the Grizzlies a spark to help offset their slow start to both the 1st and 2nd halves. His 3-point shot was off but he contributed in a multitude of ways on offense and defense to contribute to the Grizzlies being competitive in this game.

Santi Aldama - A- (13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, +17)

Santi Aldama kept his impressive end to summer league momentum going into the preseason, as he got the first nod as the starting Power Forward. He helped lead the offensive scoring charge in the first half and displayed some nice 2-way potential as a potential starter to begin the season. His 2nd half was mostly quiet until the end of the 4th, when he played a key role in the Grizzlies’ comeback effort to steal the win.

David Roddy - B+ (18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, +8)

David Roddy started with a bang, coming off the bench with a quick 3 to start his debut preseason game but was mostly quiet in the first half. However, he stood out in the 2nd half giving the team a spark with his defense and clutch baskets to help the Grizzlies complete the comeback win.

Jake LaRavia - B (15 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, +6)

Jake LaRavia was largely unimpressive in the first half of his debut preseason game but he seemed to settle down and get more aggressive by the time the 2nd half came around. He displayed the type of tenacity on offense and defense that is expected from a player of his draft status in the 4th quarter to help give the Grizzlies a chance down the stretch. All 15 of his points came in the 2nd half.

Team: A-

There is not much to complain about in this one. The Grizzlies young guys got their first taste of true NBA competition and rose to the occasion when it mattered the most in the 4th quarter. Each rookie overcame their sluggish starts and inconsistent performances throughout the game to string together an 18-3 run to end and win the game.

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