Coming off a loss to the Washington Wizards, the Memphis Grizzlies headed down I-55 to New Orleans, Louisiana to face off against divisional rival New Orleans Pelicans in a nationally televised game on TNT. Unfortunately, the Ja versus Zion matchup was delayed once again with Zion being ruled out a little over an hour before tip-off. The next chance for those 2 to face off against each other healthy will be next Friday when the Pelicans come to Memphis.
No Zion Williamson tonight for the Pelicans. He’s out due to a foot contusion.— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) November 15, 2022
Tonight also marked the season debut of Jaren Jackson Jr., but was followed by news that star shooting guard Desmond Bane will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks with a Toe Sprain.
Jaren Jackson Jr. did start in his first game of the season, with John Konchar replacing Desmond Bane and the rest of the starters remaining intact with Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, and Steven Adams. Without Zion out, the Pelicans started Trey Murphy III in his place with their normal starters in CJ McCollum, Herbert Jones, Brandon Ingram, and Jonas Valanciunas.
Both teams traded baskets throughout the first few minutes of the game before the Grizzlies used an 8-0 run to take a 6-point lead heading into the first timeout at 19-13. One thing that was apparent throughout the entire first quarter was the joy that Ja Morant seemed to be playing with.
The Grizzlies would eventually extend the lead out to as many as 8 points. The Pelicans came back to tie with 2 seconds remaining before Ja Morant hit an amazing halfcourt buzzer beater to end the quarter with the Grizzlies leading by 3 at 35-32.
JA MORANT FROM MIDCOURT pic.twitter.com/cKx0R16P2J— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) November 16, 2022
Ja Morant led the way with 16 points, and Brandon Clarke provided 6 points and 5 rebounds off the bench in the 1st quarter.
The Pelicans went on a run to start the 2nd quarter and led for most of the quarter, leading by as many as 7 points. Most of that run happened while Ja Morant sat on the bench, but once he returned to the game, the Grizzlies got back firing on all cylinders offensively. Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke’s connection was very noticeable throughout the entire 1st half and especially in the 2nd quarter.
The Grizzlies would retake the lead with a minute left in the half, after a John Konchar putback dunk and remain in the lead at halftime at 60-59. A lot happened in the last 10 seconds to end the half:
- Dillon Brooks received a technical foul with 9 seconds remaining
- Jaren Jackson Jr blocked Naji Marshall at the rim with 2 seconds remaining
- Dillon Brook made a last-second shot that did not count because he didn’t beat the buzzer.
Ja Morant led all scorers with 24 points at halftime and Brandon Clarke had 13 points and 8 rebounds to lead the bench unit.
The 3rd quarter began with a technical free throw shot from Dillon Brooks after Naji Marshall received a technical to end the 1st half. The Grizzlies followed that up with a run to start the quarter with Dillon Brooks leading the way to a quick 7-point lead less than two minutes into the 2nd half.
Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum started getting hot and propelled the Pelicans forward on a 15-5 run to take a 3-point lead. CJ McCollum hit three 3-pointers during that run. Ja Morant joined the fun trading baskets with McCollum and Ingram including another highlight dunk.
Following a CJ McCollum technical, the teams continued trading baskets until the end of the quarter which ended with the Pelicans leading by 2 points.
The Pelicans stretched the lead out to 13 points to start the 4th behind the energy of Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. The Grizzlies wouldn’t get closer than 7 points the rest of the way on to a 113-102 defeat. Ja Morant ended the game with 36 points and 6 rebounds, followed by Dillon Brooks with 19 points and Brandon Clarke with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Ja Morant was spectacular scoring-wise, but the Grizzlies lacked a consistent secondary scorer to help duel with the likes of CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram. Also, the bench was non-existent in the 2nd half as the Pelicans bench unit, led by Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr., helped extend their lead early in the 4th to help them control the rest of the game. Jaren Jackson Jr. was rusty, as evidenced by his 0-7 shooting from 3, but he made an impact defensively with 5 blocks. The Grizzlies will need him to get going soon with Desmond Bane out for the next few weeks.