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Report Card: Grizzlies defeat Warriors, extend lead on 2nd seed

Strength in numbers.

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Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

This game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors was supposed to be a more crucial, intense game than what transpired last night.

These two squads were in a neck-and-neck battle for the 2nd seed in the Western Conference just weeks ago, before Steph Curry suffered an injury a few weeks ago. That has given the Grizzlies some wiggle room.

In addition, the injury (or the caution) bug bit both teams. Not only was Curry out for the Warriors, but they sat Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on the 2nd night of a back-to-back. For the Grizzlies, they were without Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. due to soreness injuries.

While it’s not ideal circumstances from an entertainment standpoint, the Grizzlies came away with a win to extend their lead on the 2nd seed to 5 games. With six games to go, Memphis has essentially clinched the #2 seed in the Western Conference as they ride out the rest of the regular season. And the Grizzlies provided a good amount of offensive pop while doing it.

Anyways, grades.

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Dillon Brooks: 21 points (9-15 shooting, 1-3 from 3, 2-4 from the FT line), 2 rebounds, 1 steal, +/- of +10 in 22 minutes (Grade: A-)

Dillon Brooks gets a slightly dock for that early foul trouble and his little activity in the rest of the box score.

However, his scoring and his energy were instrumental in the team’s win last night. He went on a surge in the 2nd quarter, totaling 15 points in that period alone, which helped open up the game at that point.

It wasn’t just how much he was scoring, but he was doing so in an efficient manner. He wasn’t rushing or forcing any of his shots. Instead, he was finding them within the flow of the offense by getting to his spots on the floor. That area of his game is going to be important going into the postseason with Ja Morant back in the fold.

Brooks’ energy was also on 10 — pure villain tendencies from him. He chirped a bit with Grizzlies archenemies Andre Iguodala, and he taunted the Warriors a bit to rile the crowd up. He also played a pivotal role in slowing down Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole and forcing them into inefficient shooting nights.

Dillon Brooks is rounding back into form, and the player we saw tonight is who the Grizzlies need to make a big run in the playoffs.

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

De’Anthony Melton: 21 points (8-13 shooting, 5-9 from 3), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, +/- of +21 in 21 minutes (Grade: A)

De’Anthony Melton is lighting up the league over the past few weeks. He’s now scored 15 or more points in each of his past 5 games — as well as 20 or more points in 3 of those contests.

Melton’s confidence from 3 has provided a real spark for this team, as he’s finding a way to not only get cash in on 3s but do so in bunches. He also had that thunderous throw down that sent FedExForum into a frenzy.

Melton has transformed into a microwave in multiple areas of the game off the bench, and it’s going to be fascinating to see if and how this translates into the postseason. More on this coming on GBB from me, by the way!

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Desmond Bane: 21 points (7-15 shooting, 5-6 from 3), 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds, +/- of +31 in 27 minutes (Grade: A-)

Desmond Bane’s leap has been such a joy this year. It’s been every facet of his game — scoring, shooting, playmaking, defense, ball-handling. His comfort level is night and day compared to last season, which was still pretty good for the most part by the way. The biggest thing in his game is how he’s assumed the role as the go-to guy when Ja Morant is off the floor.

Bane’s rise as an offensive weapon is a big factor as to why this Grizzlies are playing at this level this season. He’s up for the challenge, and you could see the growth in his game over time this season.

Last night was a good example of his expanding role within the offense. Though he started off a bit slow in the first half, he came alive in the second half, drilling 4 of his 5 three-pointers in that span.

Bane’s ramp-up here lately has been a positive development towards what is shaping up to be a big postseason for him.

Quick Grades

  • Tyus Jones (B): It wasn’t the best night for Jones from an efficiency standpoint, connecting on only 3 of his 9 shots. However, once again, he finished with 6 assists and 0 turnovers. He’s now the sole leader in games this season with 6+ assists and 0 turnovers. He’s really setting a tone and a standard of taking care of the ball and running an offense.
  • Brandon Clarke (C): Brandon Clarke returned from injury tonight, and he struggled with his offense because of the Warriors physicality. He was only 3-9 from the field, uncharacteristic from him. He did find a way to get to the free throw line, shooting a nice 6-9 from the charity stripe.
  • Ziaire Williams (C+): Ziaire Williams wasn’t much of a perimeter factor in this game, making only 1 of his 4 three-pointers. The plus here is aligned with his playmaking in this one, finishing with 4 assists in this one. It’s something that could develop over time, so flashes are always nice here and there.
  • Steven Adams (B): Steven Adams excelled in his role of crashing the glass, setting hard screens, and anchoring the defense. He also made Kevon Looney essentially a non-factor — only 2 points on 2 shots and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes. He does his job so well.

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