After the Grizzlies routed the Suns on December 23rd, it would’ve been a lot to ask for a repeat performance. However, Grizzlies fans searching for a redemption of sorts after Sunday’s defeat at the hands of Golden State were greatly disappointed.
Last night’s performance by the Grizzlies against the shorthanded Suns, who were missing superstar scorer Devin Booker, was unacceptable.
The final score was 125-108, but true fans and supporters of Memphis understood midway through the contest that there seemed to be a lack of urgency from the team. That can’t happen after your superstar point guard Ja Morant proclaims to the media about “being good in the West.”
Here are some grades from last night’s debacle.
Ja Morant– 34 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 8-22 FG, 3-10 3 PT +/- -23
It says a lot when your best player pours in 34 points yet ends up with a -23 plus/minus value. Yet that’s what happened last night, which isn’t great by any stretch of the metric.
As usual, Ja was the best player on the court last night and really did his best to put the Grizzlies on his back last night, the definition of a true backpacker. For those unfamiliar with the term, I define a backpacker as a NBA player who must score a minimum of 30 points nearly every night for his team to be successful.
I thought the Grizzlies were deep enough for Ja to not be added to the list, but I apologize for the misjudgment.
Back to Morant. He got to the free throw line 16 times last night, and while he didn’t shoot efficiently (credit to the Suns defense), he represented the Grizzlies’ best chance to win. That 22-point third quarter from Ja was special to watch, and I certainly wouldn’t designate him for much of the blame last night.
However, his grade must take a hit because of the end result, and without much support (more on that in a minute), there wasn’t an avenue for the Grizzlies to emerge victorious last night.
Jaren Jackson Jr- 6 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 2-12 FG, 0-4 3 pt percentage, +0 +/-
Where do I start with JJJ?
This was an awful performance from JJJ, and please don’t give me that BS on the STOCKS(steals and blocks). That’s great and all, but the Grizzlies didn’t pay him 108 million to just obtain steals and block shots.
Aside from being a factor on the boards somewhat, JJJ was virtually invisible offensively, putting up the same amount of made shots as fouls (2).
What makes JJJ’s subpar night against Phoenix is that in the last contest between the two squads a few days ago, he poured in 24 points and collected 10 rebounds. This follow-up contest wasn’t even close to the full potential that JJJ possesses, and that’s why I am very hard on him.
A player of his caliber shouldn’t be putting up subpar numbers like this, even if the rest of the starters aside from Ja didn’t care to really make much of an impact.
Grade: C-(really a D, but I took into account the defensive stats)
Desmond Bane- 14 points, 2 rebounds, 4-12 FG, 0-4 3 PT, +/-: 0
I am starting to wonder if Bane rushed back from his injury, because his performances in his first two games back haven’t looked like the sharpshooter Memphis loyalists are accustomed to seeing.
While Bane chipped in 14 points, he wasn’t nearly as active on the defensive end, and he just wasn’t knocking down shots at an efficient rate. I do not want to knock Bane’s performance too much because he will certainly return to form as he regains his health.
However, he was on the floor, and I must judge him accordingly. Bane’s chances of making the All-Star Game are slimming with every subpar performance, and hopefully he finds his shooting stroke soon.
Head Coach Taylor Jenkins
I am going to add this tidbit regarding the Memphis Grizzlies head coach. He’s one of the best in the business, but at this point there’s something that needs to be done regarding the rotation. Jenkins must figure out who’s staying in the rotation and who’s not. The last two games have been acceptable, and if the Grizzlies envision making noise in the playoffs, they must figure out their lineup issues.
And that starts with Jenkins.