The first quarter was really a back-and-forth affair fueled by the 3-point attack. Both teams sought drive-and-kick opportunities leading to clean looks from 3, as the Grizzlies and Kings combined for 9 three-pointers in the first quarter. Beyond the parade of 3’s, Ja Morant announced his return in typical fashion — relentlessly getting into the paint for finishes of his own or for his shots for this teammates. The Grizzlies led 31-28 after the first period.
Jaren Jackson Jr. set a tone with his force on the Kings to kickstart the second quarter. He attacked the basket time and time again, punishing the Kings for their lack of size on the interior. In the midst of that thought, the game still remained back-and-forth. However, the Kings managed to build a lead to close the half — thanks to the dynamic offense from Kevin Huerter and De’Aaron Fox. The Grizzlies closed the half down 5, 64-59.
The Grizzlies tried to quickly trim the deficit to start the quarter, cutting it down to 1 a little bit over 2 minutes into the game. However, it was short-lived. The Grizzlies went ice-cold, and the Kings fueled their offense off of it. The Kings entered the 4th quarter with a 12-point lead (88-76).
Grizzlies shot 30 percent from the field, 14 percent from 3, had 5 turnovers and only scored 17 points. Are down to the Kings at the end of 3 88-76— Terry Davis (@Terryd515) November 23, 2022
The 4th quarter was exhilarating, but it didn’t start early. The Kings expanded their lead to 14 early in the quarter, as the offense continued to stagnate. It felt like the game turned a tide when Ja Morant hit a 3 from the logo right before the shot clock expired.
From there, the Grizzlies upped their defensive intensity to create havoc and cause turnovers. In addition, Ja Morant continued to find his way downhill and at the rim to cut the deficit. After a missed Sabonis layup with less than 5 seconds left, Morant drew a 3-shot foul with a 3-point deficit. However, he missed the first one, and then got called for a lane violation trying to intentionally missed the last one. Morant scored 20 of his 34 points in the final period.
The Grizzlies couldn’t complete the comeback efforts, falling 113-109.
- The Grizzlies miss Desmond Bane. The Grizzlies miss their sharpshooting 2-guard. In the midst of their offensive slump in the 3rd quarter, Bane’s impact and absence became even more apparent. Teams can clog the paint to make driving lanes tighter for Ja Morant, as they don’t pay nearly enough respect to the Grizzlies’ shooters. His additional playmaking and shot creation provide another dynamic for the Grizzlies to unlock offensively, giving them more offensive diversification. When Morant goes out, Bane steps in as the go-to option to buoy the offense in those minutes. Life is a lot easier with an elite shooter that’s the other half of a top-tier NBA backcourt.
- There’s a new threat joining them in the Western Conference. Yeah, the Sacramento Kings are legit. They move the ball so well to generate clean looks from 3. De’Aaron Fox is playing like a bonafide All-Star, and his backcourt running mates Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk are providing scoring sparks. They have a nice blend of versatility, speed, and playmaking that makes this system hum. It’s early in the season, but it looks like the Sacramento Kings may crash the scene with the incumbent contenders — like the Grizzlies — that are vying for a top-6 seed.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. is providing a sick punch. Jaren Jackson Jr. continues to find his groove offensively. He’s attacking the paint and seeking contact to either muscle his way into finishes or trips to the free throw line. While there are defensive woes, he’s done a good job of patching some of them with his awesome activity — coming away with 7 stocks in this game. If this is the version of Jackson the Grizzlies are getting this season, the Grizzlies will be just fine when they become more healthy.
The Memphis Grizzlies are off until Friday, as the New Orleans Pelicans come to town.