The Memphis Grizzlies are on their home floor for the first time in the 2022-23 season, looking to build upon its preseason opener win against the Milwaukee Bucks. This time, the Grizzlies played everyone — as the only players out were Jaren Jackson Jr., Killian Tillie, and Danny Green.
The first quarter started out kind of slow for both teams. Preseason, no surprise. Santi Aldama — who started alongside the usual 4 of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, and Steven Adams — drilled 2 three’s early in the period. One of the highlights of the first half was Desmond Bane beating Jalen Suggs off the dribble and finishing admits his contact at the rim, then proceeding to hit him with the “Too Small” gesture. The Grizzlies’ offense began to look more comfortable, en route to a 25-21 lead after the quarter.
Santi Aldama continued to make it rain in the 2nd quarter, as he connected on 2 more triples. The Grizzlies started to build on its lead midway through the period with some strong defensive activity. They generated 6 second-quarter steals, including 1 that led to a 360 jam from Ja Morant. Jake LaRavia also had a sweet play where he got the advantage on Paolo Banchero, leading to an open lane for a thunderous slam. The Grizzlies led 56-42 at halftime.
The third quarter was rather quiet. Ja Morant and Desmond Bane set a bit of a tone in the early going, but the offense stagnated a bit. Ziaire Williams had some mixed moments — including two moving screens and then a pair of buckets. The Magic managed to tighten the lead, but the Grizzlies ultimately went on a mini run to close the quarter — leading 86-69.
The Grizzlies started the quarter with some offense from Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke, including a cycle from a Brooks block and a Clarke jam. Midway through the 4th quarter, the Grizzlies leaned more with their young guys, as David Roddy and Kennedy Chandler made their unofficial home debut. There were no fireworks in the 4th quarter, as the Grizzlies cruised on to a 109-97 win.
- Ja’s still cooking. Ja Morant did not miss a beat whatsoever. In his first action of the preseason, he was in midseason form. The Orlando Magic simply didn’t have an answer for him in the paint, as Morant sliced his way through the lane quite a bit. What really stood out was Morant’s defensive activity. He finished with 4 stocks (3 steals, 1 block), turning his interceptions into pick-6’s in transition — including a massive 360. The Grizzlies lost some defensive with the departures of Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton, and if they’re having their “head of the snake” All-Star lead the charge in making up for it, that’ll be a fascinating development for the ceilings of both the Grizzlies and Morant.
- Vets cold. Training camp and preseason are often used as times where veterans play their way back into the swing of things. It seemed that way tonight for a few of the Grizzlies veterans, particularly Dillon Brooks and Tyus Jones. The duo shot a collectively 3-15 from the field, just unable to find the bottom of the net. Brooks, however, made up for it with stellar defense on Paolo Banchero — as the number 1 overall pick scored 8 points on 2-9 shooting. It’s no reason to worry, but it definitely stood out as a sore spot in this game.
- Rotation check. Taylor Jenkins started Morant, Bane, Brooks, Aldama, and Adams in this game. Then the main bench unit consisted of Jones, John Konchar, Ziaire Williams, Jake LaRavia, and Brandon Clarke. Focusing on the position battles in preseason, LaRavia played with more aggressiveness in this game, embodying the team’s “let it fly” philosophy. He only connected on 1 of his 5 three’s, but he made some good defensive plays, as well as a sweet dunk after getting past Banchero. Then the main takeaway from this rotation test: It’s Santi Aldama’s spot to lose as the opening night starting 4. He’s shooting the ball with more confidence and looking to make the right reads within the flow of the offense. He’s been quite a surprise thus far in preseason, and he’ll likely be rewarding with an immediate spot in the starting lineup.