With Brandon Ingram a late scratch, the game featured a duel of guard play between Ja Morant and C.J. McCollum. McCollum may have won the individual battle with 32 points but Morant led the Grizzlies to the win.
Memphis started out red hot, leading by as many as 20 points during the first quarter while hitting 11 of their first 12 field goals. Who said this team can’t shoot?
New Orleans would respond, however, cutting the deficit to just 10 points at the end of the first quarter behind 16 points from C.J. McCollum.
With Ja Morant on the bench for the first six minutes of the second quarter, Jaren Jackson Jr. started going to work in the paint, drawing two fouls and going 4-4 from the line.
Morant would return and the Grizzlies would promptly go on a 9-0 run to force a Pelicans timeout. Memphis would push their lead to 20 again toward the end of the second quarter but a buzzer beating floater from McCollum would make the score 77-58 good guys at the half. McCollum would finish with 25 first half points.
Desmond Bane wasted no time either, finding his rhythm on Beale Street early by hitting shots in transition and in the half court. Bane scored 18 points on 4-5 three pointers at the midway point.
Coming out of the break, the Grizzlies made it a priority to force somebody other than McCollum to try and beat them, blitzing him on the pick and roll while relying on Jaren Jackson Jr. to help on to the role man. The adjustment helped as Memphis extended their lead to 28 points by the end of the third quarter 112-84.
While McCollum struggled with the defensive pressure of the Grizzlies, Morant was in attack mode as the NBA’s leading third quarter scorer went for 10 in the period.
With Ja Morant on the bench, Jaren Jackson Jr. asserted his dominance at the beginning of the fourth with two of his three blocks coming in the quarter.
With a solid 30-point lead halfway through the fourth quarter, coach Taylor Jenkins emptied his bench with 6 minutes remaining allowing Killian Tillie, Xavier Tillman, Jarret Culver and 2020 SEC DPOY Yves Pons some playing time.
- Bane is better than ever. Desmond Bane was lights out in the first half and finished the game with 22 points on 9-17 shooting but 5-9 from three point range. Bane has been the most consistent distance shooter for the Grizzlies this season before he had hit a slight slump at the end of February but has not made less than 44% from three since. The knock on the Grizzlies playoff chances have been their half-court struggles but if the hot shooting by Bane carries over to the postseason it opens things up for the rest of the offense.
- Slow-Mo and Melt are fun together. Coach Taylor Jenkins has been platooning Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton together off the bench and it’s been working, at least defensively. Both are good defenders with active hands and that defensive duo has been helping the Grizzlies create fast break opportunities when the half-court offense becomes stagnant. It remains to be seen how much Dillon Brooks’ return will affect their ability to be on the floor at the same time but come playoff time look for Jenkins to use them to stop opposing teams runs.
- McCollum is a Grizz Hater. C.J. McCollum had to step up tonight without Brandon Ingram in the lineup but even if B.I. had been able to go, I think McCollum still would’ve tried to go for 30 in Memphis. McCollum averages 22 points on 50% FG and 40% 3 point shooting for his career against the Grizzlies highlighted by two separate 40-point performances back in 2018 and two 30+ point games this season.