The Memphis Grizzlies continued their home stand and looked to extend their win streak to five against the Detroit Pistons. Memphis won the previous meeting in Detroit by 10 in a game highlighted by spectacular plays from Ja Morant.
Carrying some momentum from their last win, the Grizzlies started out the game hot and got out to an 11-point lead; however, the young Pistons team would not go away easily. Led by Kevin Knox and Marvin Bagley III, the Pistons came all the way back and took the lead early in the 2nd. However, the Grizzlies would punch back with a 20-8 run of their own and took an eight-point lead heading into halftime. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks led the way with 12 points while Morant had 6 assists.
At the beginning of the 3rd quarter, it was clear that Morant and the Grizzlies were on a mission. After scoring seven points in the entire first half, Morant had 8 in the 3rd quarter alone, sparking a Grizzlies run that would put them up by 20 heading into the 4th quarter. The Pistons would go on a run late in the 4th, but the Grizzlies would extend their win streak to five with a 114-103 victory.
*Steven Adams left the game in the 4th quarter with an ankle injury, but said “he’s ok” after the game.
Now it’s time for the Grades:
Jaren Jackson Jr - A+: 20 points, 8-12 FG (3-5), 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals
Jackson has improved in every aspect of his game since last season and it was on full display against Detroit. It all starts on the defensive end, where he had 4 blocks tonight and contested a multitude of shots at the rim. Jackson also continues to do this while staying out of foul trouble for the first time in his career, and has become more active when it comes to steals and deflections.
Jaren Jackson Jr. finished last season with 177 blocks (2.3 PG) and 272 fouls (3.5 PG)— Bryson (@BrysonWright3) December 10, 2022
So far this season, he has 32 blocks (3.2 PG) and 30 fouls (3.0 PG).
Might be the most important part of his growth
Offensively, he has embraced his size mismatch and continues to be more aggressive and efficient on the inside. So far this season, he is shooting 59% on his 2-point field goal attempts, up from 48% last season. He was able to score in the post, on lobs, and on drives to the basket while continuing to be more active on the boards. A healthy Grizzlies team with this version of Jackson will be difficult to beat.
Brandon Clarke - A+: 17 points, 7-8 FG, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Brandon Clarke scored 17 points for the second straight game and had his 5th straight game in double figures for the Grizzlies. He was active in the pick-and-roll, scoring off multiple alley-oop assists from both Morant and Tyus Jones. He was also active on the glass with seven rebounds, two of them coming on the offensive end.
Despite some early-season struggles, Clarke’s play has been integral to Grizzlies during this five-game winning streak, specifically in the last two games. The stats show that he shoots better from the floor and scores more in home games, so watch for Clarke to continue this level of play through the last two games of the home stand.
Ja Morant - B: 15 points, 6-20 FG (0-7 3-PT), 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block
Outside of one stretch during the beginning of the third quarter, Morant struggled with his shot, but he also finished a game-high in plus/minus (+22). This was mostly because of his ability to affect the game even when his shot is not falling. Five other Grizzlies finished in double-figures against the Pistons and the Grizzlies finished with 30 total assists. Morant had 12 of those assists and was the driving force behind the Grizzlies' offense even on an off night.
Making plays in the paint pic.twitter.com/2bVPWgMxKy— Bally Sports: Grizzlies (@GrizzOnBally) December 10, 2022
He also made a huge impact on the defensive end with 3 steals and 1 absolutely spectacular block at the rim. Morant’s improvement on this end of the court has not been talked about enough nationally, but it is clear that his defensive buy in has been key to the Grizzlies on the stretch.
Grizzlies Paint Scoring and Defense
The Grizzlies have made it a point to dominate teams in the paint going all the way back to the Grit and Grind days and this game was no different. Of their 114 points, 68 of them came in the paint. Against most teams in the NBA, Memphis has a frontcourt size mismatch and they have been exploiting it during their 5-game winning streak. In the last five games, the Grizzlies have averaged 62 points in the paint, which is first in the NBA.
Rim protection has also been another point of success for the Grizzlies, especially since the return of Jackson. As a team, they had 11 blocks tonight and only allowed 40 points in the paint. During the streak, they have given up just 38 PITP per game, which also leads the NBA during that stretch. Their paint presence on both ends of the court has been the catalyst for the streak.
Overall Grade: A
The Grizzlies continue to capitalize on their opportunities at the FedEx Forum, moving to 11-2 at home on the season after their 6th home win in a row. It was a very balanced performance as the Grizzlies moved into 2nd place in the west behind the Pelicans. With two homes games left on the home stand, we will see if they can continue to solidify themselves in the wild western conference.