The Memphis Grizzlies are looking to avenge their first loss of the season, after their showdown with the Dallas Mavericks. The Brooklyn Nets are on the other side tonight — Memphis’ first-look at the polarizing, yet star-studded, trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons.
Oh, and Dillon Brooks is back and making his season debut. Rejoice!
The first quarter started in true villain fashion: two fouls on Dillon Brooks. These two calls stemmed from frustration, more than likely. That aside, the first quarter brought all the fireworks from the main stars in this matchup: Ja Morant and Kevin Durant. Both players were in their bags to start the games — slicing and dicing the defenses into easy buckets. Joining the shot-making extravaganza, Santi Aldama drilled a slick fadeaway over Kyrie in the post. The Grizzlies also found energy off the bench from Tyus Jones and Brandon Clarke — as the latter finished a nasty poster dunk off the pick-and-roll.
After a fadeaway buzzer-beater from Kyrie Irving, the Grizzlies led 39-34 after the first quarter.
The Brooklyn Nets started the 2nd quarter on a run, leading them to eventual taking the lead midway through the period. It was a rough stretch of play for Brooks, as he seemed to be forcing his way through the rust with erratic shots. Near the end of the quarter, Brooks and Durant both picked up technical fouls. The second quarter wasn’t an absolute doozie, as Ja Morant electrified the Grindhouse once again — dropping a left-handed sledgehammer off the fast-break alley oop.
The Nets led 69-64 at halftime.
Desmond Bane kicked off the 2nd half with an offensive surge en route to a 18-point quarter — a welcoming sight given his recent struggles. He connected on multiple 3’s, and there was a sweet pair of possessions where he then Aldama made tough layups over outstretched defenders. The 3rd period was just an offensive masterclass. The Grizzlies blitzed the Nets for 45 third-quarter points, but Kevin Durant kept the game close with his superb shot creation. He and Ja were trading buckets, and it was a riveting basketball experience. The 3rd quarter closed with the Grizzlies leading 109-97, as Desmond Bane hit this 3 all the way from Beale Street moments before the horn.
Kyrie Irving kept the Nets afloat to start the final period. Once all 4 stars — Morant, Bane, Durant, and Irving — returned to the game, buckets were flowing left and right. It seemed like all 4 players were trading blows left and right. Ultimately, with roughly a minute left in the game, it was a Ja Morant dagger 3 from the top of the key that sealed the game. The Memphis Grizzlies came away with a 134-124 victory.
- Bench energy. The bench was sneaky good in this game. Though the rookies Jake Laravia and David Roddy struggled offensively, Brandon Clarke, Tyus Jones, and John Konchar all showed their value off the bench. Clarke was rolling hard and attacking his way to the foul line. Jones used the threat of the roll or the kick-out to get to his floater. Konchar only shot the ball 3 times, but his 2 three’s were pivotal. It was a solid showing from the complementary guys, as the stars broke out.
- Dillon Brooks was off. Dillon Brooks made his return, and it was a bag of mixed results. On one hand, his energy was felt defensively — providing strong doses of edge and tenacity. However, his offense left little to be desired, forcing it a bit offensively to get into a flow. His offensive output will be interesting to monitor here in the coming weeks, but you can see his impact defensively.
- Desmond Bane is back. Talks of Bane’s demise were exaggerated. Shooters get in slump, but they keep on shooting. Bane surged in resounding fashion — scoring 38 points on 14-21 shooting from the field and 8-11 from 3. More impressively, he also showed his playmaking improvements with 7 assists. When Bane is playing with that much confidence offensively, and at efficiency we’re used to seeing from him, the Grizzlies are a tough team to beat. That version of Bane is also an All-Star guard.
- In conjunction, this was a shot-creation masterclass. Along with Desmond Bane’s sensational 3-point shooting and play-finishing, this game was a scoring clinic. As expected with scorers like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they found their groove in the mid-range — using dazzling ball-handling and footwork to get to their spots. In similar fashion, Morant continued to show his evolving shooting chops, while skiing his way downhill for points in the paint. This game will go land at the top of a 2022-23 regular season rewatchables list, because of the electric scoring display from this quartet.
The Memphis Grizzlies will travel out West for a 4-game road trip over the next week.