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Report Card: Grizzlies dominate Clippers in emphatic win

Beating the Clippers by dominating the paint? Sounds like the good ol’ days.

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LA Clippers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers rivalry is not the same without the cast of “Grit and Grind” and “Lob City” teams. And it may never get there, depending on whether or not these two meet in an eventual playoff series. However, beating them this emphatically is still pretty sweet. Sweeping them in a season series is even sweeter. And doing so by hitting them with alley oop after alley oop? Too sweet.

And the Grizzlies won with some grit and grind fashion, but added their only flash with showtime plays and with zooming transition offense. They scored 78 points in the paint, and they converted on just 9 three-pointers. Last night, they were the first team this season to score 130 points or more while only making 9 or fewer 3’s. They got a formula that’s working — and it helps having a generational talent in Ja Morant, a good screener and offensive rebounder in Steven Adams, and some bounce in the cast of players surrounding them.

How’s it going to be sustainable going forward when teams game plan for a 7-game series? We’ll see, but their level of execution to their game plan shouldn’t be questioned, and how often they strike in this regard should be taken into account in that discussion as well.

It was an emphatic win. Let’s grade it out.

Los Angeles Clippers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Jaren Jackson: 26 points (8-14 shooting, 1-3 from 3, 9-9 from the line), 11 rebounds (8 offensive), 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, +/- of +6 in 26 minutes (Grade: A)

Jaren Jackson Jr. was absolutely dominant in this game.

He joined Hakim Warrick and Jonas Valanciunas as the only players in franchise history to record 25+ points and 10+ rebounds in less than 30 minutes, per Stathead. Weird that Zach Randolph wasn’t in this category either.

This is up there for the most dominant performances of Jackson’s career. He played with relentless force on the glass, abusing the Clippers’ smaller frontcourt. That was probably the most aggressive we’ve seen him rebounding the ball, and he really changed the game in that regard.

Offensively, he didn’t force much. There were some points where he flashed an unbelievable dribble combo, but didn't generate a bucket. A lot of his offense came on the offensive glass, and from attacking closeouts.

Getting this aggression from Jaren Jackson Jr. is great, and it puts them in position to win each and every night. Things are coming together for Trip, and people are starting to see it.

Los Angeles Clippers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Ja Morant: 30 points (12-19 shooting, 1-2 from 3, 5-9 from the free throw line), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, +/- of +21 (Grade: A-)

It was another day in the office for Morant.

He got into the paint at will, as expected from the league’s leader in points in the paint. His finishing ability is so impeccable for his positional archetype. When he does that, he generates so much offense through his scoring and his playmaking. He also got out in transition and gave Memphis quite a show.

There was scary part of the game where Marcus Morris slung Morant to the ground as 12 was going for a dunk. Ja was all good, and he said he’s cool with the Morris twins (so do we have to dislike them less?).

Anyways, Morant made offense look easy in this one. Only thing giving him the “minus” was the 4 missed free throws and 5 turnovers, and he’d usually throw out there when criticizing his own game during postgame interviews.

LA Clippers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The bench: 55 points, 24 rebounds, 13 assists, 7 steals, 5 blocks (Grade: A)

Last week, I gave the Grizzlies’ bench a collective grade for a rough outing in Philadelphia. So let me give credit where it’s due here.

The Grizzlies’ bench stepped up big in this game, and helped propel them to an easy win. Their collective activity and energy defensively generated stops and turnovers, fueling transition offense. They also shared the ball and moved off the ball quite well to generate easy offense.

For a quick breakdown on each player:

  • Brandon Clarke emphatically helped put the game away in the 3rd quarter with his vertical pop, hitting the Clippers with haymakers. He also countered their small-ball lineup well as a rim-protector.
  • Kyle Anderson had the highest +/- off the bench (+19), and he also put pressure on the Clippers with his defensive activity (3 steals) and his methodical downhill attack.
  • De’Anthony Melton and Tyus Jones didn’t get really much going offensively, collectively shooting 5-20. Jones orchestrated the ship well when Morant was on the floor. Melton made up for his off shooting with his event creation (3 steals, 2 blocks, and 4 assists).
  • John Konchar played to his jitty ways. For one, he about sent the roof of the FedExForum down by nearly connecting on a sky-high alley-oop. He hit outside shots, joining Ziaire Williams as the only player with multiple 3’s. He moved the ball well too, sometimes passed out of layups though.

It can be a mob mentality with this Grizzlies team, and the bench ensured a win was way more comfortable to support star outings from their cornerstones.

Real quick grades

  • Desmond Bane (C): Bane couldn’t really get into a flow offensively. He was forcing some stuff, and he didn't have much in his legs. I wonder how much that fall in Orlando affected that. However, he made an impact as a playmaker on both sides of the ball (4 assists and 2 steals).
  • Ziaire Williams (C+): I dig the efficiency from Williams, as he converted on 4 of his 6 field goal attempts. He got himself baited into early foul trouble from defending Norman Powell, so he never got into a rhythm similar to the past two games. Bonus points for efficiency!
  • Steven Adams (B+): Once again, Adams just did his job quite well. 9 points on 4 shots, 8 total rebounds, and 3 assists in only 20 minutes. He sets screens to free up his teammates, en route to 78 points in the paint. Defensively, he made Zubac a non-factor as well. He’s so good at his job. The fit is clean here.

Tune in tomorrow as the Grizzlies travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons.

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