The Memphis Grizzlies, once again, win without Ja Morant taking down Milwaukee Bucks 127-102 on Wednesday night. It was the fourth straight game without Morant but this cast of role players continue to step up to contribute.
The Grizzlies outrebounded, outshot, and out hustled the Bucks in the team's 52nd win on the season. It was the seventh straight win in FedEx Forum and the eighth win in their last 10 games.
Let's look at who stepped up most against Milwaukee and give out some grades.
De’Anthony Melton: 24 points (8-11 FG, 6-9 3P), 2 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
Melton has become the hottest microwave scorer in the league in the past week. Since the Houston game, Melton has averaged 20.5 points while hitting 61.8% of his threes on 8.5 attempts per game, all while coming off the bench.
He went catatonic against Milwaukee in the third quarter scoring 12 of Memphis’ 39 points in the period on 4-6 three-point shooting. Melton has been mostly a defensive spark plug in the Memphis lineup for the majority of the season, but has stepped up in a major way to pick up the scoring slack in Morant’s absence.
Going into the playoffs, his hot scoring off the bench and activity on the defensive end of the floor can play a major role in the Grizzlies’ success, especially when the halfcourt offense becomes stagnant. His quick-trigger shooting and ability to create transition opportunities lead to easy offense on a team that is often searching for it.
Tyus Jones: 13 points (4-9 FG, 2-4 3P), 10 assists, 4 rebounds
Tyus has been the catalyst for the Grizzlies in Ja’s absence this season. The team is now 17-2 without their star point guard and it is largely thanks to the steady hand of Tyus Jones.
His ball movement is contagious, as he accounted for 10 of the Grizzlies’ 30 assists against the Bucks and did so without a single turnover.
Jones, the three-time league leader in assist to turnover ratio, has been great offensively during this latest four-game stretch without Morant averaging 13.3 points, 8 assists, and just 0.8 turnovers per game since Ja re-aggravated his knee injury in Atlanta.
He’s also been efficient and selective in his scoring role, hitting at 61.5% clip from three and 51.4% overall in the last four games. Assuming Morant returns shortly before the playoffs begin, Jones will move back to his role as the best backup point guard in the league. The key will be whether or not he can continue to be as efficient as a bench scorer in his more-limited role come playoff time without being a defensive target in the pick and roll.
Dillon Brooks: 19 points (9-17 FG), 1 assist, 3 rebounds
Brooks set the tone early against the Bucks on Saturday night, scoring 11 of his 19 total points in the first quarter. He looked like the Dillon Brooks of old, attacking off the dribble and getting to his spots in the midrange.
Good to have you back DB. pic.twitter.com/lIpVus7gqu— Bally Sports: Grizzlies (@GrizzOnBally) March 27, 2022
The three-point shooting is still a work in progress, 0-3 against Milwaukee and just 22.2% since his return from injury, but his perimeter defense is back to his pre-injury level as he played a major part in Khris Middleton scoring just 16 points on 5-16 shooting.
Brooks’ perimeter defense paired with Jaren Jackson Jr. patrolling the paint is a tough 1-2 punch for any scoring threat come playoff time.
Steven Adams: 4 points (2-7 FG), 5 assists, 11 rebounds
Adams is now the single-season record holder for offensive rebounds in Grizzlies history after snatching six tonight to dethrone Zach Randolph as Memphis’ putback king. His offensive rebounding against the Bucks played a large part in Memphis’ 22 second-chance points in the win.
Wednesday was his 37th game this season with double-digit rebounds, a massive part of the Grizzlies’ league-leading 49.5 rebounds per game this season, and did so despite leaving the game with a knee injury.
Adams would return to the bench after being evaluated in the locker room and as one of the toughest guys in the league, I don’t expect him to miss any time.
Team Grade: A
Grizzlies fans have become desensitized to how insane it is that this team keeps winning without Ja. This win was their second in four days against two of the great superpowers in the East in Brooklyn and Milwaukee.
I know both teams’ records have been below expectations and each was dealing with injuries in Memphis, but anytime you take down a KD and Kyrie-led team followed up by a win over the defending champions, you've had yourself a good work week.
The stats on Wednesday were great for the team: 30 assists on 49 made baskets, outrebounding the Bucks 54-46, and winning the turnover battle 13-8 are all key to the Grizzlies’ winning formula.