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Report Card: Grizzlies blitzed by Mavericks in first regular season loss

The Memphis Grizzlies couldn’t contain Luka, or get past their blitzing defense

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies came into Dallas for a showdown with the Mavericks, after a comeback win against the Houston Rockets. It was the Grizzlies’ 3rd game in 4 nights.

And it went just as you expect.

Luka Doncic started to cook throughout the 1st quarter, dropping 21 points in the period. From then on, the outcome and flow of the game seemed inevitable. The Mavericks blitzed the Grizzlies on both sides of the ball — swarming the drive to stifle the Grizzlies downhill, and attacking their way into their spots to generate 3’s and foul attempts.

Ultimately, the Grizzlies suffered their first loss of the season, and it was a blowout.

Anyways, let’s get to grades.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Ja Morant: 20 points (6-12 shooting, 0-2 from 3, 8-8 from the free throw line), 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 steal in 30 minutes (Grade: C)

After a 49-point explosion in Friday’s win, Ja Morant’s encore against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks was going to be a spectacle to watch.

The Dallas Mavericks had an answer for Ja Morant in this one.

Fatigue probably is a factor here, as the Grizzlies played a close game last night and it’s their 3rd game in 4 nights. However, the Mavericks had a gameplan for Morant, and it worked to a tee.

Morant’s efficiency wasn’t bad, as he shot 50% from the field, but they weren’t giving him clean looks. They placed a 6’7” Dorian Finney-Smith on him, and they sent blitzing traps over to Morant whenever he was heading downhill. Through the intense coverage, Morant navigated his way into the lane quite well, leading to trips to the charity stripe.

The Mavericks did a good job taking the ball out of his hands. They wanted someone else to beat the Grizzlies. And for the Grizzlies, this game served as a reminder they need extra scoring punch — especially without Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, and Ziaire Williams.

Memphis Grizzlies v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Desmond Bane: 14 points (4-11 shooting, 2-5 from 3, 4-4 from the free throw line), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 27 minutes (Grade: C-)

Desmond Bane did a good job at adding value elsewhere as a rebounder and playmaker.

However, his early slump thus far has been felt, especially with a depleted roster at the moment. He just doesn’t look right or healthy. He’s missing looks he usually takes advantage of. When there’s little space for him to operate, he was apprehensive shooting the ball or uncomfortable creating. It just hasn’t been an ideal start for a dude looking to take another big leap this season.

At the moment, sure it’s fine to be a little bit worried. He's supposed to be the Morant’s offensive co-star and one of the best shooters in the world, and he doesn't look right on that end of the floor. It’s important for the coaching staff to help him find his groove — run 3-point actions for him, or thrust him in more scenarios where he’s spotting up rather than creating.

I’m not worried though; Desmond Bane is going to be fine. He’s bound for a progression to the mean, likely coming in a stretch where he torches earth for a bit. Nonetheless, the fatigue in this game exemplified how rough this early start has been for the 3rd-year marksman.

Other Grades

  • Tyus Jones (C): Tyus Jones found his groove as a playmaker, as he tallied 4 assists against 0 turnovers. He has been gunning the ball a bit more to start the season, as last night was his 3rd-consecutive game with double-digit shot attempts. He’s stepped up to provide shot creation in the absence of 3 key rotation players, and how he balances getting his shots and setting up his teammates will be fascinating once the team is healthier.
  • Brandon Clarke (C): Of all the rotation players that weren’t in garbage time, Clarke had the “highest” +/- of -2. He’s someone who’s struggled to getting going in the early season, as he’s someone who’s felt the ripple effects of Jaren Jackson’s injury in multiple ways. In last night’s game, he couldn't contain Christian Wood. However, he started finding his spots more frequently in the 2nd half — primarily in the pick-and-roll.
  • Steven Adams (C-): Adams’ pick-and-roll defense was exposed in this game, and the Mavericks made sure he wasn’t gobbling up rebounds as well. His rim protection stood out though, as he came away with 4 blocks last night.
  • John Konchar and Santi Aldama (D): These two players are lumped together, primarily because they just weren’t factors in this one, after contributing in a major way in the first two games. There aren’t any major concerns, especially since there are ebbs and flows with role players. Fatigue probably played a part, but they couldn’t find a rhythm in this game.

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