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Report Card: Memphis finds its groove in Motown

A masterful 3rd Quarter from Ja led to a solid win.

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Like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day, the Memphis Grizzlies' win over the Detroit Pistons was refreshing. Sure, the young, scrappy Pistons fought and kept it respectable. But this game was never in doubt.

Memphis came to The Motor City fresh off a big win over Joel Embiid’s 76ers in the Bluff City. This game against the Pistons could’ve been a trap game for the Grizzlies with a matchup against another tough Eastern Conference foe - the Miami Heat - Monday night. Instead, the Grizzlies started off energized with a 40-point 1st quarter.

As the game went on, Detroit hit enough 3s to ensure the game didn’t get out of hand trailing by 12 entering the half. Then, Ja Morant happened — more on him later. Though some poor offensive execution down the stretch made the final 122-112 score closer than it should have, Memphis will enter tomorrow’s battle with tons of confidence. Let’s get into the Report Card.

Ja Morant (A): 33 points (12-23 FGs), 10 assists, 5 rebounds, several highlight plays

Ja Morant’s relationship with Jaden Ivey and his family is well documented. There’s a ton of love and respect between them, especially considering how similar their games are. But that doesn’t mean their competitive fire wanes when they face off. If anything, the flames are stoked.

In the first half, Ja was a good facilitator but a pedestrian scorer with only 7 points at halftime. Watching Ja play, you could tell Jaden and Killian Hayes were getting in his head a bit. But remember that meme about messing around and finding out? The whole city of Detroit found out.

Ja Morant was a savage with 21 points in the 3rd quarter and finishing with 33. Add in 10 assists for a double-double and 5 rebounds for some fries, and there’s no question Mr. Morant ate good in D-Town.

Jaren Jackson Jr. (B+): 22 Points (7-13 FGs, 6-7 FTs), 3 Rebounds, 1 Block

Jaren danced tonight in Motown showing off a plethora of post moves. Not a single Piston could guard him. From the jump, JJJ was aggressive offensively taking on whoever wanted a piece of The Block Panther. Whether it was Marvin Bagley III, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren, it didn’t matter to Trip.

This is the Jaren Jackson Jr. the Grizzlies need offensively. However, he wasn’t a force on the boards like he was the past couple of games and didn’t amass the blocks he normally does, which is why he can’t receive an A.

Brandon Clarke (A-): 14 Points (6-9 FGs), 14 Rebounds (4 offensive, 10 defensive)

With no Steven Adams, Brandon Clarke entered the starting lineup next to Jaren. One of the most common wants in all of Grizz Nation is more BC/JJJ minutes. Tonight, we got them, and Brandon made his case for more moving forward. Air Canada was efficient from the floor and was a pogo stick on the boards, which is exactly what Memphis needs from him. Though he didn’t tally any blocks, his verticality impacted many shots. Plus, his ability to switch on guards was very valuable tonight.

Overall Grade: A-

The Grizzlies were not perfect tonight. Too many missed rotations on defense and bad execution on offense for a few stretches of the game, such as in the last 2 minutes, keep Memphis from getting a perfect score. But anything less than an A- would be harsh. Detroit was chasing the entire night, and Memphis knew they had full control of the outcome. Strong play from John Konchar and 22 points from Dillon Brooks helped give the Grizzlies an easy win.

Memphis welcomes Jimmy Butler and company to the FedEx Forum Monday night.

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