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Report Card: The Grizzlies blow past the Hawks to their sixth straight win

Memphis’s next-man-up mentality is unleashed against the Hawks.

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Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies played their fourth straight home game last night, looking to extend their winning streak to six against the Atlanta Hawks. The Grizzlies and the Hawks were both undermanned in last night’s contest. Jake LaRavia was active and available for Memphis but Ja Morant and Steven Adams joined Desmond Bane and Danny Green on the injury report. After an overtime win on Sunday, Atlanta sat Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic, John Collins, and Clint Capela while Dejounte Murray remained out with an ankle injury.

Despite the absences on both sides, fans were still treated to an exciting game. The Grizzlies started hot, making their first nine shots. Tyus Jones, stepping up as the starter, had 10 first-quarter points and Jaren Jackson Jr. dominated defensively to give Memphis a 35-29 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Jackson’s interior presence was the story of the second quarter. Only two minutes into the period, Trip recorded his sixth block of the game. On Atlanta’s following possessions, it was evident the Hawks wanted to avoid going into the paint. Memphis got scoring contributions from Santi Aldama and Jones to extend their lead to 11 at the end of the first half.

The Grizzlies lead remained around 11 for much of the third quarter before going on a run, growing their lead beyond 20. Jones orchestrated the offense scoring six points and tallying four assists in the quarter. David Roddy came off the bench and used his big frame to add to the Grizzlies’ lead. By the end of the third quarter, Memphis was firmly in control.

The reserves played much of the fourth quarter and Memphis came away victorious 128-103.

Now let’s take a deeper look at Memphis’s performance.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Jaren Jackson Jr. - A+: 15 points (6-11 FG, 1-4 3PT), 8 blocks, 7 rebounds, 23 minutes

What Jackson has been doing on the defensive end is not being talked about enough. Entering tonight, Jackson was averaging 3.2 blocks through his first 10 games. What is eye-popping, though, is the impact Jackson has on every defensive set. Every possession is changed by his presence and when he is not blocking shots, he is altering field goal attempts and causing opponents to miss easy looks. Tonight, he set a new career-high and tied a franchise record with eight blocks.

Jackson has finally put it all together. He always had the potential to be an elite shot blocker but he struggled with foul trouble. This year, he has yet to foul out and is averaging only three fouls per game, the fewest of his career. Offensively, he is passing up open threes and using his frame to get to the paint and score easy buckets. His field goal and three-point percentage are up and he is averaging the most rebounds of his career. The improvements Jackson has made this year shined in tonight’s performance.

Tyus Jones - A+: 22 points (8-14 FG, 4-7 3PT), 11 assists, 3 steals, 25 minutes

Yet again, Jones showed that he is much more than a backup point guard. It was only a week ago when Jones stepped in for Morant and dropped 28 points and 10 assists. Jones was calm and collected as he led the Grizzlies in scoring and assists. Jones was efficient and effective as he scored from all over the court.

It is rare that a team is able to sit their best player and sub in someone who can play just as well and this is what makes Jones an invaluable part of this team. If it was a tighter game and Jones was forced to play more minutes, he might have gotten to 30 points.

Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Kennedy Chandler - A: 8 points (4-5 FG), 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 stocks

The rookie was exceptional in his expanded role tonight. Kennedy Chandler played 23 minutes and was lights out as he ran the Grizzlies’ offense with Tyus Jones on the bench. Chandler finished with a career-high seven assists while also grabbing six rebounds. The Tennessee product made sure to include a few highlight plays as well – throwing down a monster jam and rising up to make an athletic block at the rim.

Ball-movement: A+

The Grizzlies finished with 36 assists, a new season-high. Memphis is undefeated when they tally 30+ assists. With Morant and Adams out, two of the team’s assist leaders, the Grizzlies got contributions from Chandler, Jones and John Konchar. The ball movement was excellent and led to one of their best shooting performances of the season. The Grizzlies shot 60.2% from the field and 40.6% from beyond the arc. The team played selfless basketball tonight and it showed as the Grizzlies found open shot after open shot.

Overall Grade: A+++

The Hawks may have been missing a lot of the players but the Grizzlies were also down three starters and won by 25. Memphis’s lead was as big as 34 at one point. There were a lot of encouraging performances from tonight’s win. Jones once again proved himself as a starting-caliber point guard. Chandler emerged as a valuable contributor. Jackson cemented himself as one of the best shot-blockers in the league and the Grizzlies extended their win streak to six. Hopefully, Morant and Adams get healthy soon as the Grizzlies face Milwaukee on Thursday, but even if they do not play, Memphis has shown that their next-man-up mentality can win them games.

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