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Report Card: Grizzlies couldn't outlast Warriors depth

The Memphis Grizzlies couldn’t provide enough help for Ja Morant in Christmas Day loss.

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Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images

Winning basketball games usually go as far as stars will take their teams. For the Memphis Grizzlies, Ja Morant showed up in this high-adrenaline game. However, they couldn’t get the necessary contributions from Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. The Warriors’ stars for this game showed up in the absence of Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins. Jordan Poole had 32 points with masterful off-ball movement; Klay Thompson’s efficiency wasn’t there, but he added value elsewhere (9 rebounds and 4 assists); and Draymond Green stuck to the brand with 13 rebounds, 13 assists, and 2 blocks.

On nights where stars struggle, role players could elevate their games to give them a good chance to win games. In this one, the Warriors’ role players prevailed.

The moment was big — a Christmas Day showdown, where Grizzlies star Ja Morant was debuting his new signature shoe. Unfortunately, they couldn’t rise to the moment in yesterday’s game.

It’s 1 game out of 82 games. It’s not defining for them, but there are elements in this game that add to a recurring theme and will be crucial over the next few weeks.

Anyways, grades.

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Ja Morant: 36 points (15-29 shooting, 2-10 from 3, 4-7 from the FT line), 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 6 turnovers, 1 steal in 41 minutes (Grade: B+)

Ja Morant did all he could in last night’s defeat. He seemed to be the only player locked in the entire game.

Morant’s relentless attack downhill kept the Grizzlies in the game through its entirety. The Warriors didn’t have an answer for his driving game. Their only solution was to dare him to shoot the 3 ball, which worked to the tune of a 2-10 shooting night from long range.

Morant’s playmaking was good for the most part, as he dished out 8 assists. However, he still struggled with turnovers, coughing the ball up 6 times.

The Grizzlies need help when Morant is having these kinds of nights. The supporting cast stepped up big against Phoenix when he was off, but there needs to be a similar level of urgency in his big games.

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Jaren Jackson Jr.: 11 points (5-7 from the field, 1-2 from 3), 2 blocks, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 5 fouls in 21 minutes (Grade C-)

It’s the same tune it’s been over the past few weeks. His involvement and availability have to be there nearly every night for the Grizzlies to have an advantage.

The fouling was still an issue. He had a few bad calls, but at the same time, he also had a couple rough ones on his part. Cutting down on the silly fouls will give him more calls to spare when the whistle doesn’t go his way.

Credit to Taylor Jenkins, he gave him a little bit more leeway. He inserted him into the game late in the 3rd quarter with 4 fouls, though he did pick up his 5th foul on the very first defensive possession. However, it felt “too little, too late” — the Warriors had already made their massive run.

Jaren Jackson Jr. unlocks so many possibilities for the Grizzlies’ system — providing a go-to option in the frontcourt, and elevating their defense from solid to elite. He needs to be on the floor, and it’s on him and Taylor Jenkins.

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Desmond Bane: 9 points (2-13 shooting, 0-7 from 3, 5-6 from the FT line), 4 rebounds, 1 block in 24 minutes (Grade: C-)

Desmond Bane is still getting his legs under him. He seemed sped up getting to his spots and firing from 3-point range.

The Warriors, however, made him uncomfortable adding value elsewhere. He took advantage of their coverage to get to the charity stripe, a good spot to see a couple shots fall down. He didn’t have any assists though, and his secondary playmaking adds a dynamic to the Grizzlies’ attack.

The Grizzlies won’t win most nights with Bane shooting like he did in last night’s defeat. He’ll find his rhythm and flow, as he’s still working his way back from injury — one where he came back a bit ahead of schedule.

Role Players: (Grade D)

The Warriors’ supporting cast crushed the Grizzlies last night:

  • Donte DiVincenzo: 19 points (7-12 from the field, 5-9 from 3)
  • Anthony Lamb: 11 points (4-5 from the field, 3-4 from 3)
  • Ty Jerome: 14 points (6-9 from field, 2-4 from 3)
  • Moses Moody: 10 points (4-7 from the field, 1-3 from 3)

When supporting casts are putting up these kinds of number, while the big 3 (Poole, Thompson, and Green) are cooking in their own regard, it’s not a good omen for winning chances.

For the Grizzlies, it was a wishy washy performance from its supporting cast. Dillon Brooks showed composure at the beginning of the game, but forced it for a large chunk of it. He also couldn’t get going from downtown, as he only hit 1 of his 6 attempts from 3.

Santi Aldama and Tyus Jones found their grooves in the game, combining for 22 points on 4-7 shooting from 3. Brandon Clarke was a bit more quiet than he has been this month, but still had 9 points and 6 rebounds on 4-5 shooting. Ziaire Williams and John Konchar are still slumping and were non-factors in keeping up with the Warriors’ bench.

Steven Adams was a force on the glass, but the Grizzlies opted for more speed and versatility on defense to keep up with Golden State’s perimeter attack.

Ultimately, the Warriors’ “strength in numbers” prevailed. The Grizzlies supporting cast was okay on their own standards, but there was little resistance to slow down their counterparts.

It’s on to the next one though, as the Memphis Grizzlies take on the Phoenix Suns tomorrow night at the FedExForum.

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