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Report Card: Despite sluggish start, Grizzlies bully Thunder to 4th straight win

The Memphis Grizzlies start slow but blitz Thunder in the 4th quarter to continue their winning streak.

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

To say the least, the Memphis Grizzlies are one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Their performance in Wednesday’s 123-102 victory accentuated that statement, with the role players for the squad stepping up to the plate, along with the team’s stars.

No victory in the NBA should be undervalued, and despite the Grizzlies being tested by an overachieving Thunder squad, a win is a win.

With a lot of stats to break down, let’s divulge into some grades.

Brandon Clarke: 17 points, 8 rebounds, 8-10 FG, 1 block, +/-, +11

BC showed up to play last night.

Exploiting a weak OKC front line, Clarke went to work on the boards and presented the Thunder with a problem they simply couldn’t solve. No player on the opposing squad had the girth, physicality, or determination to keep Clarke from being a beast on the inside last night, and he just decimated OKC’s bigs, while also managing to stay out of foul trouble for most of the night.

Essentially a few points away from a 20-10 performance, games like this from Clarke will be essential in Memphis’s success going forward. When he asserts himself on the glass, Clarke’s easily one of the best backup power forwards in the NBA, and he’s proven to be worth every dollar of the 52 million dollar extension he signed during the offseason.

Grade- A

Santi Aldama, 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 5-8 FG, 2-4 3PT, +/- ,+1,

Arguably the Grizzlies’ biggest revelation this season has been the emergence of Aldama, whom many fans had given up on after just one year of service. He’s improved in nearly every facet of the game this season, and his exploits were on display last night. Santi knocked down several clutch shots during the second half of last night’s game that he wouldn’t have dared to attempt last year.

Aldama’s ability to stretch the floor (knocking down 2 threes in 4 attempts last night) gives Memphis a ton of flexibility off the bench. He’s still a work in progress on the defensive end, but with the physicality of Clarke, Aldama’s not in too many positions to where there’s no help for him defensively.

His efficiency in just 22 minutes of play gives me the urge to boost his grade up, and that’s what I am likely to do.

Grade- B+

Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Ja Morant- 26 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, 8-16 FG, 2 steals, 2-3 3 PT +/- +11

For starters, I owe Ja a huge apology. I undervalued his importance to the Grizzlies during the stretch of last year in which the team sported a 20-5 record without him.

Games like last night remind me why he’s one of the best talents in the NBA, and ready to take over the mantle as the league’s premiere point guard.

Matched up last night against another fellow superstar in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ja more than outperformed his fellow counterpart.

He dominated last night — getting to the rim at all, knocking down 2 threes in the process, and controlled the pace of the game with both his scoring and his pinpoint passes.

Oh, not to mention Ja pumped out a triple-double in just 30 minutes of action last night. Yes, it was against the Thunder, a team that outside of SGA and point guard Josh Giddey lacked the firepower to keep up with a guy like Ja.

However, I won’t be the one to dock him for that, and that reflects in my assessment of his performance last night.

GRADE- A+

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