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Report Card: The Grizzlies hold on in Portland

Desmond Bane’s 29 points are enough to fend off the Trailblazers.

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

After losing back-to-back games in Utah, the Memphis Grizzlies suited up for the final game of their west coast road trip. The Grizzlies barely escaped in Portland after blowing a 17-point fourth-quarter lead. Anfernee Simons scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to tie the game late but Desmond Bane’s 18 fourth-quarter points were enough for Memphis to hold on.

The Grizzlies were sloppy, turning the ball over 14 times and suffering mental lapses throughout the game. Memphis never trailed but they blew several leads and let the Blazers go on big runs. Portland’s 19-2 run in the fourth quarter nearly cost the Grizzlies the game.

Bane, Steven Adams, and Jake LaRavia were all questionable entering tonight’s game, but they were all active against the Portland Trail Blazers. Memphis gave LaRavia another night off but Adams and Bane were crucial to Wednesday’s win.

Desmond Bane - 29 points (7-16 FG, 5-8 3PT), 8 rebounds, 5 assists

Grade: A-

If not for Desmond Bane’s impressive fourth quarter, Memphis would have likely lost their third straight game. In just the first 2:30 of the fourth quarter, Bane went 3-3 from beyond the arc and assisted on another Grizzlies triple. He was aggressive and went hard to the basket throughout the game, often drawing contact. He was 10-11 from the FT line.

Bane was sorely missed in Monday’s loss against Utah, and he was a bit rusty to start against Portland. He missed his first three shots and turned the ball over twice in the first quarter. However, once he got going, he was a game-changer. He was matched up against Josh Hart, who has hurt the Grizzlies in the past. Wednesday, Hart only scored five points on 1-4 shooting and he turned the ball over three times.

Since Bane is one of the league’s best three-point shooters, his defense often gets overlooked. He stays active and is an above-average perimeter defender. Memphis will need more defensive intensity if they intend on improving their 29th overall defense.

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Steven Adams - 14 points (6-9 FG), 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks

Grade: B+

After taking a hit to the jaw on Monday, there were questions about whether Steven Adams would be good to go against Portland. One of the strongest men in the league, Adams took no time to recover, posting his best performance of the season. Adams was very involved in the offense in the first half. He was taking it to the basket, dishing out dimes to Bane and Santi Aldama, and grabbing offensive rebounds.

Memphis’s perimeter defense was shaky throughout the game. At times, the Grizzlies were able to cleanly contest shots and protect the interior. Then, there were times when Jusuf Nurkic and Drew Eubanks were able to dominate the inside. Adams held his own on drives to the hoop, but he allowed Nurkic to grab offensive rebounds and create second-chance opportunities for the Blazers, which hurt Memphis.

When Jaren Jackson Jr. is back, Adams will have fewer defensive responsibilities but for now, Big Kiwi is the man in the middle, and he needs to protect the paint against opposing big men. Overall, Wednesday was a very impressive performance from Adams.

Ja Morant - 20 points (7-19 FG), 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 8 turnovers

Grade: C+

Wednesday night was Ja Morant’s worst game of the season, which is not saying much considering how spectacular he has been in 2022. However, Morant was sloppy with the ball, recording the most turnovers he has had since January 31. He made careless passes and often went for highlight assists that resulted in turnovers. Grizzlies fans are so used to Morant completing these, that his mistakes on Wednesday came as a shock.

It was also surprising to see Morant miss as many layups and floaters as he did down the stretch. He was 0-6 in the fourth, and the “Ja go get a bucket” gameplan was not working. This was a large reason Memphis was unable to slow Portland’s run.

For all of Morant’s offensive struggles on Wednesday, he set the tone for Memphis and showed the league just how good of a leader he can be. Morant took two charges, dove for 50/50 balls, and played with incredible defensive intensity. He led by example and, while the shots were not falling, Morant was incredibly impactful against the Trailblazers.

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

David Roddy - 10 Points (3-6 3PT), 2 assists, 2 steals

Grade: B

In only 19 minutes, David Roddy drained three-pointers, dished out two dimes, and showed fresh defensive energy. Roddy shot over 40% from three in college but before Wednesday, his shots were not falling. He was 4/25 from deep entering the game, but finally, Roddy’s shots began to fall.

It felt like the first time that Roddy was able to settle into the offense and mesh with his teammates. Before last night’s game, Roddy’s minutes had felt clunky and his shots seemed forced. Against Portland, he operated within the flow of the offense. Going forward, I would like Roddy to not be relegated to just a three-point shooter. At Colorado State, Roddy showed a versatile offensive skillset, and thus far he has been stuck behind the three-point line. In time, his game will grow and Roddy will resemble the player the Grizzlies saw in college.


The Grizzlies are now 5-3 on the year and travel home to face Charlotte on Friday. Morant and Bane have proven they are one of the league’s most dominant backcourts, but can Memphis’s defense hold up against the Hornets?

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