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Report Card: Grizz Hold On to Beat Bulls

Career Night from Ja lifts Grizz

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Memphis Grizzlies v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

A big night for ‘Big 12.’

Ja Morant has a career night and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja poured in a career best 46 points for the Memphis Grizzlies in their 116-110 win in Chicago on Saturday night over the Bulls.

It was a game that featured the two surprise MVP contenders in Ja Morant and DeMar DeRozan and it did not disappoint. DeRozan finished with 31 points, 13 in the fourth, marking his 10th straight game where he scored at least 30 points.

For a minute there, it felt like deja vu, as it looked as if the Grizzlies were going to blow another double-digit lead like they did Thursday night in Minnesota. But some big free throws, a three from Bane, and a defensive stop allowed them to seal their first win after the All-Star break.

It also important to point out that even though it took 3 games, you can go ahead and cash that Grizzlies OVER on the season win total. Vegas had it at 41.5, and this win pushes the total to 42 with 20 (!!!) games still left to play.

Now it’s time to hand out some grades:

Ja Morant - 46 points (15-28 FG, 3-4 3 PT, 13-15 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists Grade: A+

There wasn’t much doubt with what Ja was going to walk away with after this performance. In the first half, Ja was able to pretty much do whatever he wanted. Even watching that, I had no clue how special this night was going to be.

Ja leads the league in third quarter scoring and he once again delivered, scoring 20, which allowed the Grizz to build a lead as large at 19 points.

While Ja did most of his damage inside the paint, he also shot above his season averages from both 3-point land and the charity stripe.

It’s incredible to watch Ja, as he continues to be must see basketball. The Chicago crowd, who was able to witness the best player in the world on a night in and night out basis 25 years ago, appreciated and respected Ja. They responded with ‘ooooo’s and ahhh’s’ as Ja flew through the air at times. If you haven’t seen him in person yet, make sure you go down to FedExForum at least once this season.

Steven Adams - 12 points (5-9 FG, 2-4 FT), 21 rebounds, 5 assists Grade: A

While Ja dominated the third quarter, the first quarter is apparently the time for Steven Adams. Adams with nearly a double-double in just the first frame with 9 points and 10 rebounds — 5 offensive.

Oh and by the way, he also had 5 assists in the game, including a beautiful full-court toss to Ziaire Williams that resembled an NFL QB and not Adams. Adams became just the third Grizzlies player to finish with 20+ rebounds and 5+ assists in a single game (thanks to GBB’s Shawn Coleman for that nugget.)

Adams, once again proving that he is the right fit for this Grizzlies team and that he will do what’s needed for this team to succeed.

Kyle Anderson - 6 points (3-6 FG), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks Grade: B+

NBA: FEB 26 Grizzlies at Bulls Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

‘Slo-Mo’ had himself a signature game. One of those where he makes plays when he needs to. Anderson is one of those guys where you know he was doing things on the court, and then you check the box score and see, ‘Whoa, 11 rebounds...3 blocks...OK!’ He’s also responsible for the game’s biggest defensive play with the block on DeRozan in the final 10 seconds.

Kyle isn’t always going to get the recognition he deserves and he isn’t always going to give you a game like today. But when he’s on, he’s one of the most reliable guys in the league to give you something off the bench and deliver in big spots — whether it’s on offense or defense.

Final Grade: B-

The Grizzlies played pretty well for most of the game, but did allow the Bulls to climb back into it and nearly steal one after the Grizz held a 19 point lead. There are some things they can clean up, with 13 turnovers and too many guys in foul trouble down the stretch. But, it’s just the second game out of the All-Star break, so they are still probably a tad rusty on some things.

Desmond Bane had a game he would probably like to forget until he knocked down the three in the final minute. He finished with 12 points on 4-18 shooting, including 1-7 from three before fouling out.

Teams should just stop trying to score on Jaren — he finished with 4 blocks. He still leaves some things to be desired on the offensive end by going 4-12 for 8 points.

And Ziaire Williams continues to make the most of his minutes — 9 points and 6 rebounds. He’s doing what he needs to do and isn’t trying to force it. I didn’t expect this level of growth from Williams in just his first season, I am extremely impressed.

At the end of the night, the Grizzlies still pick up a season sweep against the Bulls, a team that could be the top seed in the East. It also keeps a nice 3.5 game cushion ahead of Utah for the third spot in the West, just 2 behind Golden State for 2nd.

Next Up: Monday night vs. San Antonio Spurs at FedExForum

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