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Report Card: The Grizzlies crush the Bucks to win their seventh straight game

Memphis put the league on notice last night.

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Milwaukee Bucks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images


What did I just watch? That was reminiscent of the Grizzlies' violent beatdown of the eventual NBA Champions in last year’s playoffs. Memphis had won six straight and could have easily mailed this game in against the Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the second-best record in the NBA. Instead, the Grizzlies played their best all-around game of the season. Memphis led wire-to-wire and led by as much as 50 against the Bucks, ultimately winning 142-101.

It was lopsided from the jump. Memphis led 33-18 at the end of the first quarter and the team had already set the tone for the game. Milwaukee was not prepared for the physicality the Grizzlies played with nor the energy the team brought. For much of the game, it seemed like the Grizzlies could not miss. Shot after shot fell for Memphis as starters and bench players alike contributed to the beatdown. At the half, the Grizzlies led 70-41.

Any hope for a Bucks comeback was immediately squashed as Memphis came out hot to start the third quarter. The period was full of highlight plays as the Grizzlies moved with pace to build on their first-half lead. Ja Morant might have led the way with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists (all in 25 minutes), but everyone got some as the Grizzlies lead eclipsed 40. Santi Aldama, Dillon Brooks, David Roddy — name a player, and they were involved and making buckets. By the end of the third quarter, Memphis and Milwaukee had pulled their starters, as the Grizzlies’ lead was now 117-71.

Even the Grizzlies’ reserves got in on the action as they grew the lead to 50 in the fourth quarter. At this point, the game was so out of hand the wave broke out in FedEx Forum and the Grizzlies joined in.

Memphis shot 55% to Milwaukee’s 37%. The Grizzlies outrebounded the Bucks by 17. Memphis recorded eight more assists than Milwaukee. The Grizzlies scored 86 points in the paint to the Bucks’ 38. Memphis’s bench poured in 80 points to Milwaukee’s 62. Besides turnovers, the Grizzlies led the Bucks in every stat category.

The top seed in the Western Conference played like it last night and they did this all without their second-leading scorer. The rest of the NBA should be scared. Now, just for the heck of it, let’s hand out some grades (spoiler alert: it is As all around).

Dillon Brooks - A+: 18 points (7-14 FG, 1-4 3PT), 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 21 minutes

It might have been a pretty standard offensive performance but last night was the ultimate Dillon Brooks game. Brooks is recognized as the tone-setter for this Grizzlies squad and he delivered last night. From the opening tip, he brought the energy that translated to the on-court smackdown.

Poor Khris Middleton was in jail. Brooks shadowed him for much of the night and held Middleton to 1-12 from the field and 1-8 from three. Middleton finished with three points, four turnovers and five personal fouls. Middleton’s frustrations seemed to surface early when he intentionally tripped Brooks in the first quarter. Hey, I get it, if I was in absolute basketball hell, I too would be miserable.

Brooks’s energy and pace sparked many of the team’s runs and some of his fast break drives and leak-out passes gave the Grizzlies some serious momentum. Brooks, who is receiving some early recognition in the defensive player of the year race, built his case yesterday. A free agent this offseason, Brooks showed the Memphis faithful why he is so integral to this team’s identity.

Ja Morant - A: 25 points (9-21 FG, 2-8 3PT), 10 assists, 10 rebounds, 25 minutes

Not a spectacular shooting night for Morant but all season the star has shown that he does not need to score to be effective. Morant was at the center of all the Grizzlies’ runs, either driving coast to coast in a frenzy or making incredible passes to open teammates. Morant recorded a triple-double before the end of the third quarter but in his post-game interview, it was clear he was mostly focused on how he only turned the ball over once. In a game where he was skyrocketing up and down the floor and passing into tight windows, it is pretty spectacular he recorded 10 assists while only giving up the ball once.

Morant’s shooting numbers have been down recently but Memphis is winning all the same. He seems content spreading the wealth and does not seem concerned about scoring 30 a game. While I love seeing Morant go off for big numbers, I am more than happy for him to be a guy that averages 25 points, nine assists and eight rebounds — which he has done for the last 10 games.

Rapid-fire grades

Tyus Jones - A: 16 points (6-9 FG, 3-3 3PT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists

Jones has been monumental in Memphis’s win streak and last night was no different. Jones is as efficient and consistent as point guards come and his ability to distribute without turning the ball over is incredible.

Santi Aldama - A: 14 points (4-6 FG, 2-3 3PT), 3 rebounds

What a game for Aldama. He was especially good in the third quarter when he went on a scoring run to build the Memphis lead. The Bucks’ only hope of stopping Aldama was Bobby Portis scratching at him like a vicious cat. Seriously, what was that?

David Roddy - A+: 15 points (7-13 FG, 1-6 3PT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists

How about “Big Body Roddy!” Yesterday was the rook’s best game of his career as he showed flashes of the guy that dominated at Colorado State. Roddy is at his best when he uses his big frame to get inside and create easy shots. When he is not stuck in the corner to shoot threes, Roddy can be a unique and versatile offensive player. Some of the shots he made last night were incredibly difficult but the rookie made it look easy. I am excited to see what is to come for “Big Body Roddy.”

Ball-movement: A+

The Grizzlies once again finished with 30+ assists and they remain undefeated when they reach that mark. Memphis averages 14.7 turnovers per game. Last night, against one of the best defenses in the association, they turned the ball over only seven times. This is in a game where Memphis played much of the fourth quarter with lineups made up of only rookies and two-way players. The Grizzlies have something special brewing and when a team is this in sync, they are hard to beat.

Overall Grade: A+++

Another night, another Grizzlies dub. Memphis has won its seventh straight and it does not feel far-fetched to say they are the best team in basketball right now. Now imagine adding a 45% 3PT shooter who was receiving All-Star buzz, before he got injured, to this team. Last night, the Grizzlies put the league on notice.

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