The Memphis Grizzlies looked to continue their victorious ways on their home floor, as they came into tonight’s game winning 4 games in a row. The Oklahoma City Thunder came in on a 3-game winning streak of their own.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair, and it was rather sloppy. Both teams turnover the ball over too many times, and everything felt sped up. Ja Morant put together a rebounding rampage though, hauling in 7 boards in the quarter. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also bought a couple tickets to the foul line, as he generated 10 free throw attempts in the quarter. The Grizzlies led 27-25 at the end of the 1st quarter.
Ziaire Williams made his season debut at the start of the 2nd quarter. His first big play was a side pick-and-roll action with Brandon Clarke for an easy layup. The Grizzlies really ramped up their defensive activity in the 2nd quarter, an effort led by Jaren Jackson Jr.’s shot-blocking extravaganza. The Grizzlies couldn’t fully extend the lead, but they held down the fort enough to lead 57-52 at the half-time intermission.
Dillon Brooks came out of the break cooking with 3 straight 3-pointers, but the Grizzlies couldn’t capitalize on it to build a lead. The defense was pretty lackadaisical, especially getting back. Ja Morant started to heat up in the quarter, scoring 14 points in the period — blending 3-point shooting with his downhill attack. He almost destroyed Poku at the rim, but spared him with the finger roll instead. The lead extended closer to double digits, as the Grizzlies ended the 3rd quarter with a 94-87.
The Grizzlies finally blew the doors off the game in the 4th quarter, en route to a big double-digit lead. They finally fed Jaren Jackson, who scored 7 quick points in the quarter. Brandon Clarke also found an offensive groove of his own, and they piled on a bunch of stops. Ja Morant finally got his triple-double, after generating a steal and getting it out to Clarke for an easy jam. He gave a little encore shortly after with an alley oop for Ziaire Williams.
The Memphis Grizzlies pulled away and won 123-102.
- Dillon Brooks continues defensive excellence. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been on a tear here this season, scoring in a variety of ways at a high volume. Dillon Brooks, once again, made life harder for him offensively. In their first matchup, SGA only had 15 points on 6-18 shooting. Tonight, a parade to the free throw line kept him above the 20-point mark — a critique Brooks gave himself in this matchup — but the star guard was limited to 4-14 shooting. His defensive excellence and his ability and willingness to guard the best player each night are huge for this team’s success, and performances like these will help build his All-Defensive team case.
- Santi Aldama does cool stuff. In this game, Santi Aldama dunked on Poku, dropped a behind-the-back dime, and hit 2 “no-dip” 3-pointers. Some of the stuff he pulls out of his bag is so funky in the best way possible, and it’s been a cool byproduct in his increased minutes load.
- Defensive activity from a staggered lineup. The lineup of Tyus Jones, Brooks, Ziaire Williams, Clarke, and Jackson was catalyst for this team because of their defensive activity. They swarmed the Thunder as they were going downhill, racked up blocks, and got out in transition. Though he didn’t shoot all that well in his return — missing shots he normally makes — Williams’ activity was great, as he hauled in 6 rebounds. This lineup will be a key component for this team going forward, especially in the non Ja Morant and Desmond Bane minutes.
The Memphis Grizzlies will continue their home stand against the Detroit Pistons, as they look to push winning streak to 5 games.