Looking to bounce back after a close loss against the Celtics, the Memphis Grizzlies traveled to San Antonio to face the Spurs. It was a matchup between two teams who had been on very different trajectories over the last week. Entering tonight, the Grizzlies had won three of the last four while the Spurs were on a 4-game losing streak.
The Grizzlies started off the game on fire offensively and quickly began building a lead. Led by Ja Morant’s 10 points, the Grizzlies shot 60% from the field and scored 38 points in the first quarter. They also dominated the glass with 7 offensive rebounds which resulted in 11 second-chance points. The Grizzlies' lead got as large as 14, but a late run by the Spurs cut the deficit to 6 going into the 2nd.
Early in the 2nd quarter, the Spurs erased their deficit and took the lead. Both teams continued their hot shooting in the quarter as a back-and-forth offensive slugfest broke out in San Antonio. At halftime, both teams were shooting over 55% from the floor and 45% from behind the arc. However, the Grizzlies had built another lead near the end of the half and led 66-59 at halftime.
The third quarter was more of the same as the Grizzlies stayed ahead but weren’t able to put the game away. The Spurs continued to score at a high level, led by Jakob Poeltl and Devin Vassell who both finished with 22 points on the night. However, they also struggled to stop Desmond Bane and Morant on the other end. Memphis’s lead was as large as 11 in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies' turnovers allowed the Spurs back into the game. San Antonio took a 94-89 lead into the 4th quarter.
The Grizzlies would punch back in the 4th quarter, behind more great plays from Bane who continued his All-Star level play. However, thanks to some more sloppy turnovers from Memphis, the Spurs were able to stay in the game. With the game tied, Keldon Johnson was unable to hit a floater that would have ended the game as we headed to overtime.
In overtime, every Grizzly made huge plays, but they got out to a 9-point lead. However, the Spurs stormed back and cut the lead to just one. After not starting the clock on a Spurs possession in one of the strangest situations you will see in an NBA, the refs took the extra time off the clock and left the Grizzlies with 9 seconds left. Morant was fouled and went to the line, but made just 1 of 2. The Spurs has one last chance down by 2, but Vassel’s 3-pointer was short as the Grizzlies won 124-122
Morant and Bane Shine again
Ja Morant and Desmond Bane have been incredible throughout the early season, and it was more of the same tonight. They combined for 64 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists and made countless big plays down the stretch. So far this season, Bane and Morant are both making a great case to make the all-star team and could be the best backcourt in the NBA.
The Grizzlies offensive rebounding and the Steven Adams effect
Since adding Steven Adams last season the Grizzlies have consistently dominated the glass, especially on the offensive end. It was clear that Adams's presence on the inside was missed in their loss against the Celtics. Tonight, the Grizzlies were dominant on the boards again with 18 offensive rebounds and a season-high 28 second-chance points. Adams had another double-digit rebound night with 19, 10 of them being on the offensive end.
The Grizzlies' defensive turnaround
It’s clear that many of the issues for the Grizzlies this season have been on the defensive end. Last season the Grizzlies were top 5 in defensive rating, to start this season they are ranked 24th The main problem has come on the perimeter, especially guarding the 3-point line, which continued for most of the first three quarters.
In the 4th and overtime, however, the Grizzlies locked in on that end and it was the reason they ended up winning the game. After giving up 94 points in the first 3 quarters, the Grizzlies only gave up 18 in the 4th and 10 in overtime. In order for the Grizzlies to become the best version of themselves, their defense will have to continue to improve.