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Report Card: Ja Morant shines as Grizzlies get an OT win

The Grizzlies gave up a 19 point lead, but were able to hold on in the end.

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

The Memphis Grizzlies opened up their season in front of a packed FedExForum, and the fans got their money’s worth and more with an overtime thriller and fireworks down the stretch. In the end, the Grizzlies played well enough to pull out the 115-112 win, but the New York Knicks definitely with enough intensity to win.

Ja Morant got the Grizzlies off to a good start in the first half and helped them get out to a 15-point lead going into the break. Defensively, the Grizzlies were highly active and held the Knicks to just 46 points into halftime.

The Grizzlies came out strong in the second half and got out to a 19-point lead in the 3rd quarter, but it did not last. The Knicks went on a huge run and took the lead late in the 4th quarter. Morant looked to hit a game-winner but was called for a charge, and the game headed to overtime.

In the extra period, Tyus Jones entered the game for Desmond Bane, who was limping after returning to the game from a cramp. Jones immediately answered the bell, as he has in the past, and hit a three-pointer that put the Grizzlies in the lead with 47 seconds left. Evan Fournier had a chance to tie the game but could not send the game into a 2nd OT, let’s get to the grades.

Ja Morant- A: 34 Points, 11-24 FG, 3-6 3-PT, 9-11 FT, 9 Assists, 4 Rebounds,1 Steal, 1 Block

Season 4 of the Ja Morant show got off to an incredible start as he dazzled the crowd at the Forum and those who watched on TV all night. He got to the rim and his floater even more effortless than he has in the past, which seemed impossible last season. Morant also showed off his improved 3-point shooting hitting three of his six attempts on the night. In addition to his shooting, Morant also showed improvement on the defensive end, especially in quicker defensive rotations. He also had another incredible chase-down block in overtime that might have been the most athletic play of the game.

Santi Aldama-A+: 18 Points, 7-14 FG (3-8 3-PT), 11 Rebounds, 1 Steal, 1 Block

The most significant question mark coming into this season was how the Grizzlies would survive without Jaren Jackson Jr. Santi Aldama has continued to prove that he is the answer to that question at the 4. Aldama scored both inside and out, including an excellent take off the dribble that ended in him doing the too-small gesture with the Grizzlies’ bench. He also had an incredible dunk on Julius Randle, sending FedExForum into a frenzy. Defensively he was solid and altered a lot of shots around the rim, especially in the first half.

John Konchar-B: 12 Points, 4-11 FG (4-9 3-PT), 11 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 2 Steals

It was also a big night for John Konchar, who was thrust into the starting lineup due to injuries to Dillon Brooks and Ziaire Williams and responded with a double-double. Konchar hit four of his nine three-pointers, including a big one in the 4th quarter that gave the Grizzlies the lead with just over three minutes left. The only problem with Konchar is his tendency to give up some open threes, which gave Fournier and the Knicks some open looks from behind the arc all night. Overall, there is not much more you can ask from Konchar on offense and rebounding, but he could improve on the defensive end of the floor.

Tyus Jones-B+: 15 points, 6-16 FG (3-8 3-PT), 4 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Steal

When it came to offense off the bench, it was mostly Tyus Jones who answered the call. With some guys out tonight, it was clear that Tyus focused more on being a scorer than an offensive game manager, which we have seen in the past. He led the team in bench points with 15 and had to close the game after the cramping from Bane, and hit the biggest shot of the game in OT, which ultimately led to the Grizzlies’ win.

Grizzlies Paint Defense: C-

Without Jaren Jackson Jr., it is clear that the rim protection will not be as good for Memphis, but this game was more than just that. Missing Dillon Brooks and Ziaire Williams, probably the two best on-ball defenders in the Grizzlies rotation, also contributed to the poor defense in the paint. The Knicks scored 68 points in the paint, which is a statistical category that the Grizzlies dominated last season.

Overall Grade: B

The Grizzlies got off to a great start and were up by double-digits for a good amount of the game, but the way they gave that lead away was a little discouraging. As the season continues and the chemistry continues to build with some of the newer additions, however, you should not see many games like this. Considering that the Grizzlies were missing 3 players that started 30 or more games last season. There are definitely things the Grizzlies can improve on, but everyone should be excited about what a fully healthy Memphis team can do this season.

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