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Report Card: Memphis clinches two-seed and first Southwest division title

Grizzlies hold on against San Antonio for historic win.

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Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

In what was once a 17-point Memphis lead, Grizzlies fans had to sweat out last night’s game after a ferocious San Antonio comeback.

Yesterday, the Grizzlies clinched their first-ever Southwest division title and secured the two seed with their 112-111 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Going into last night’s game, it was almost a certainty Memphis would secure the two seed in the coming days, but for their historic win to come against the Spurs - a team that dominated the division for years - felt good.

This game held high stakes for San Antonio as well. The Spurs held the tiebreaker over the Lakers for the tenth spot but have now fallen a half-game back. Riding a four-game win streak, the Spurs looked to create separation with LA, but are now on the outside looking in.

Memphis was, once again, without Ja Morant and Killian Tillie. For the Spurs, only Doug McDermott and Romeo Langford were out with injuries for last night’s matchup.

Dejounte Murray was sublime; he dropped 33 points on 12/20 shooting (6/9 from three) and hauled in 13 rebounds. While he did miss the game-winning layup, Keldon Johnson also had a strong game, scoring 23 points to go along with seven boards.

Last night was the Grizzlies' closest contest throughout their six-game win streak. Their previous five wins had been by an average of 23.8 points, but Memphis once again proved that they are able to win tight games too. The Grizzlies' win streak is now at six with only five games to go before roughly a week-long break as the play-in tournament wraps up before the postseason officially begins.

Before Friday’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns, let’s take a deeper look at the Grizzlies performance against San Antonio.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Tyus Jones: 25 points (10-21 shooting, 5-10 from 3), 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 0 turnovers +/- of +4 in 36 minutes (Grade: A)

Tyus ‘about to get the bag’ Jones had himself a night. With Ja missing 21 games, Tyus has shined when he has stepped into the starting lineup. He has proved he is the best backup PG in the league and he will likely have the opportunity this summer to get a starting gig if he chooses to leave Memphis.

Tyus is a career 35% three-point shooter, but he let it fly last night, making five triples. Tyus ‘Stones’ hit a big three late and despite missing a few buckets in the closing minutes, he was vital down the stretch.

Tyus, who leads the NBA in assist to turnover ratio, was one of only two Grizzlies to record zero turnovers, in his case despite playing a team-high 36 minutes. He also added six assists, marking a truly incredible performance from the seven-year vet.

Jones only gets an A, not an A+, because the Spurs backcourt had their way offensively. While Jones was not regularly guarding Murray or Devin Vassell, the combo did combine for over fifty points. Josh Richardson and Tre Jones also combined for 17 points on 6/9 shooting.

Tyus has proved that he is a crucial part of the Grizzlies half-court offense and his ball security will be very helpful in the postseason.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

De’Anthony Melton: 16 points (6-12 shooting, 4-8 from 3), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, +/- of -11 in 24 minutes (Grade: B)

Prior to last night’s game, Melton had been averaging 20.6 points per game on 60% shooting and 60.5% from three. He truly has turned into a spark plug off the bench. Melton continued his hot shooting against San Antonio, making 4+ threes for the sixth straight game.

GBB’s very own Parker Fleming touched on it earlier this week, but his recent stretch has solidified Melton as a member of the playoff rotation with his consistent scoring off the bench. When Bane, Brooks, or Ja are having a bad shooting night, Melt can bail them out, which is essential for a team looking to make a deep playoff run.

For the past week, if you tuned into your first-ever basketball game, you would assume ‘Mr. do-something’ was the best three-point shooter of all time.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Brooks: 21 points (9-17 shooting, 2-6 from 3, 1-4 on free throws), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, +/- of +6 in 27 minutes (Grade: B+)

While at times Brooks was unsuccessfully doing his best Kobe Bryant impression, he was vital to Memphis’s win against the Spurs. He was only 33% from three but he hit a huge triple in the final minutes.

As always, DB’s energy and defensive tenacity were invaluable in last night’s victory. The Spurs’ wings got their points but Brooks was physical all night. Dillon fell into foul trouble late but when he returned in the closing minutes he immediately made a difference.

What stood out last night was Dillon’s passing. He finished with four assists (he averages 2.6 assists a game) and created shots for his teammates. With Ja out, other players have stepped up as creators and last night was Dillon’s turn to spread the love.

Quick Grades

  • Desmond Bane (B): With his recent stretch, Des has set a high bar for himself. During the Grizzlies’ win streak, he has averaged 22.5 points and 4.7 assists on 54.4% shooting and 58.5% from beyond the arc. In last night’s game, he had his lowest point total since March 18, only tallying 16 points. He continued his hot shooting but ultimately Bane played passively, only shooting 11 times.
  • Brandon Clarke (B+): Despite only playing 17 minutes, Clarke made his impact felt immediately. BC quickly dropped 10 and was 4/6 from the field, including a rare three-pointer! Defensively, Clarke tallied a block and displayed his athleticism contesting San Antonio shots.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. (C): The problem is we know what JJJ is capable of and we rarely see the offensive moves he has in his arsenal. Jaren was disappointing offensively, going 4/10 from the field and 1/6 from beyond the arc, often settling for contested threes. On the other side of the ball, Trip showed why he is a top contender for Defensive Player of the Year. Jaren recorded two blocks and a steal, and at a point in the fourth quarter when Zach Collins tried to drive on him, I laughed and said “Does he know who is guarding him?”
  • Kyle Anderson (B+): He only had four points but if it wasn’t for Kyle, the Memphis Grizzlies might have lost last night. Late in the game, he saved a possession not once but twice leading to a Tyus layup. With a wingspan as long as Beale Street, Kyle was able to snag three steals, a sight that always makes me smile.

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