The Memphis Grizzlies (18-9) enter tonight’s matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks (20-7) on a 6-game winning streak. The matchup is the last of a 5 game home stand for the Grizzlies, who will hit the road following tonight for a 4 game road trip that keeps them out of Memphis until after Christmas. The Bucks enter the matchup having won 5 of their last 6 games, including a win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
Before the game, Grizzlies coach said the matchup was a “great opportunity” for the team facing off against one of the East’s elite in the Bucks. Both teams were mostly healthy, with Desmond Bane (toe) and Jrue Holiday (non-COVID illness) the lone key contributors out for tonight’s matchup. The matchup is a good test for the Grizzlies to see how they stack up with one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals. While all eyes will be on the Ja Morant-Giannis Antetekounmpo star battle, there are plenty of other intriguing sub plots like the Defensive Player of the Year battle between Brook Lopez and Jaren Jackson Jr. or the potential revenge games from Jevon Carter and Grayson Allen.
It was a chippy game from the start, with both teams trying to feel each other out early. Dillon Brooks playing the role of irritant forced a Khris Middleton turnover leading to a Middleton tripping Brooks after the play resulting in a Flagrant 1 penalty. It was a whole lot of Memphis early as they were able to take a double digit lead midway through the first quarter. The only bad in the first 7 minutes of action was Jaren Jackson Jr. picking up two fouls to get in early foul trouble. It was all Grizzlies throughout the remainder of the quarter as they took a 33-18 lead into the second frame. Ja Morant was magnificent from the jump, ending the quarter with a 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists stat line to put him on early triple-double watch.
The Grizzlies were able to quickly extend their lead up to 21 points early in the second quarter, just suffocating the Bucks offense with their defensive activity. The Grizzlies domination continued with Ja on the bench as they led the Bucks by 25 points midway through the 2nd quarter. The Grizzlies had the Bucks in total hell, making everything difficult on the offensive end and shredding their defense and committing zero turnovers throughout the first 18 minutes of the game. The Grizzlies, eventually, turned the ball over but it didn’t slow the Grizzlies down as they led by as many as 29 before entering halftime up 70-41.
It was a masterclass of a performance by the Grizzlies as they shot 50.9% from the floor while committing just 1 turnover and out rebounding the Bucks 34-18. Ja Morant led the way with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, with Tyus Jones, Dillon Brooks and David Roddy joining him in double figures.
The Grizzlies continued their run in the second half, taking a 35 point lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter. The domination didn’t stop there as the Grizzlies led by as many as 46 points in the quarter as Dillon Brooks locked Khris Middleton up (1-12, 1-8 from deep, 5 fouls) and Ja Morant sliced and diced his way through the Bucks defense en route to a triple double in just 25 minutes of action. The Grizzlies led 117-71 at the end of the third quarter.
Jenkins started the 4th with a Kennedy Chandler, Ziaire Williams, Jake LaRavia, Santi Aldama and Xavier Tillman lineup as that group along with David Roddy played out a majority of the final 12 minutes of the game. The Grizzlies lead got as high as 50 points before they finished the domination of the Bucks with a final score of 142-101. The win gives Memphis their 7th win in a row, sweeping the 5 game home stand.
Ja Morant led the way with a 25-10-10 triple double in 25 minutes. Dillon Brooks made life hell for Khris Middleton and the Grizz roll players stepped up in a big way.
Ja Morant is a cheat code. Ja Morant recorded his 3rd triple-double of the season and the 7th of his career tonight in just 25 minutes. Morant made it look so easy, scoring 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in quick fashion. It wasn’t even a particularly efficient night for Ja, who shot 9-21 from the field and 2-8 from beyond the arc.
David Roddy is getting comfortable. Roddy, alongside Tyus Jones, really stepped up in the first half to help the Grizzlies jump out to such an impressive lead. Roddy finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds before the game was a total blowout. Roddy looked ready for the moment in playing a team like the Bucks, not settling for triples and using his big frame to attack the basket. Roddy played with confidence and poise, which is a great sign for the Grizzlies and his development.
We are seeing the best version of Dillon Brooks. Brooks was in his bag tonight, irritating Khris Middleton from the opening tip and scoring at an efficient rate. Brooks finished the night with 18 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists while shooting 7-14 from the field and 1-4 from deep. When Brooks is in control offensively and not forcing things coupled with his elite defensive skills, it’s a wrap for the other team. Brooks has been playing this way for a few weeks now and it is ultimately critical to the Grizzlies championship aspirations.
The Grizzlies will hit the road for a 4 game road trip starting Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder through their Christmas Day game against the Golden State Warriors.