Considering the Memphis Grizzlies lacked their best three players in Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, and Desmond Bane against Brooklyn, they began the contest determined to garner a victory against the Kevin Durant-led Nets regardless.
Taking a bite-sized lead into intermission, the Grizzlies simply could not maintain the momentum of their first half performance. Despite four starters reaching double-digits in the points column, including Dillon Brooks’s 31-point performance, they simply ran out of gas in the second half. The Nets ran away with the game late, winning 127-115 and dropping the Grizzlies to 10-7 on the season. Getting outscored 70-53 in the second portion of the matchup certainly wasn’t beneficial to the cause, even if the Grizzlies did garner 13 steals for the game.
With Nets power forward Ben Simmons looking like shades of his former self, the Grizzlies simply lacked the defensive tenacity we typically see from this squad.
That being said, let’s hand out some grades for last night’s performance.
Tyus Jones- 13 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 1, turnover, 5-10 FG, 2-2 3 PT, -5 +/-
Jones — filling in for the Morant — played solidly, piloting the team to the aforementioned first half lead. Along with giving the team a boost on the offensive end, he also performed well when guarding Nets point guard Kyrie Irving. Simply put, Jones did his job last night, putting Memphis in the position to win last night’s game, but like the whole team, he just couldn’t finish the task at hand.
However, while Jones scored those 13 points, there’s an argument that he could’ve been more aggressive offensively. With the team limited on weapons due to injury, Tyus serves as the second option on the team, behind Dillon Brooks. Taking 10 shots won’t cut it, and while Jones is known for being a player that picks his spots, there were more than enough opportunities that he simply passed up on.
John Konchar- 16 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 4-11 FG, 2-7 3 PT, -4 +/-
Simply put, Konchar arguably played the second best game of any Grizzlies player last night, on both ends of the floor. His improvement as a playmaker offensively flashed last night, as the 7 assists illustrate. While not the most athletic defender on the team, the fact he didn’t get obliterated on that end of the floor last night is a positive note.
Konchar’s most pressing issue against the Nets stemmed from a lack of efficiency from the 3 point line, as he shot less than 30 percent from distance despite taking those 7 attempts. However, with the lack of consistent shotmakers, it’s hard to scrutinize him too harshly for that.
Dillon Brooks- 31 points, 5 rebounds 4 assists, 4 steals 13-30 FG, 3-11 3PT, -8 +/-
Typically scoring close to the same amount of points as shots attempted isn’t statistically pleasing, but Brooks’s output yesterday was pretty good for a player often criticized for his lack of shot selection. Brooks’s bucket-getting kept Memphis in the game, and that’s the type of performance from him that the Grizzlies need to maintain offensive respectability without JJJ or Morant.
Expecting 31 points every night from the streaky Brooks isn’t realistic, but if he can continue to shoot over 40 percent from the field during this stretch, that’ll benefit his offensive ceiling and the Grizzlies altogether.
Defensively, Brooks’s 4 steals led all players, and while the team’s defensive performance as a whole wasn’t great, he provided all he could on that end. Having to guard one of the league’s best scorers in Kevin Durant isn’t the ideal scenario, but Brooks didn’t run from the task at hand when matched up with him.
Performances like this are what Grizzlies fans anticipate when Brooks is forced to raise his game due to the level of his competition, and that’s what he did.
With the Grizzlies facing the Kings tomorrow night, it’ll be an opportunity for Memphis to get back on the winning track. However, if the defensive woes continue for the Grizzlies in tomorrow’s outing, they’ll be well on their way to a second straight setback in the win/loss column.