The Memphis Grizzlies entered last night’s game with a major message to deliver. After stomping the Orlando Magic on last Saturday night, they traveled to Houston for a showdown with the Rockets the next day. Unfortunately, they fumbled that game with a lack of effort, suffering arguably their worst loss of the season.
So with that — and the fact they had lost 4 of their previous 7 games — the Grizzlies needed to make a statement that they are one of the top teams in the league, like the standings reflect. In last night’s win, they made that proclamation loud and clear.
From the jump, their offense picked up a major sense of urgency, as they piled on 44 points in the 1st quarter — and 77 in the entire first half. They shot the ball ridiculously well, connecting on 16 of their 39 three-point attempts. They also attacked the glass with force, outrebounding the Pelicans by 8, while also corralling 13 offensive rebounds.
As the Grizzlies were in need of a response, they delivered one and thumped the division foe that’s down I-55.
Jaren Jackson Jr.: 22 points (7-13 shooting, 2-6 from 3, 6-6 from the line), 3 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal, +/- of +47 in 24 minutes (Grade: A)
Jaren Jackson probably needed a big-time response more than anyone on the Grizzlies. In the game against the Rockets, he picked up 5 fouls in 13 minutes, and was just unable to get into a rhythm. Opinions on Jackson getting pulled and finishing with 5 fouls are surely here, there, and everywhere. He had also struggled lately, mainly with his shooting efficiency.
Doing some research for tomorrow's game preview - Jaren Jackson Jr. is shooting 35.7% from the field over the last 10 games and 26.1% from beyond the arc. Safe to say if that continues the team will be an early out come the postseason.— Joe Mullinax (@JoeMullinax) March 8, 2022
Well, Joe. You’re in luck, because Jackson provided a good bounce back.
Offensively, Jackson just looked in a flow. He didn’t shoot the 3-ball too efficiently (2/6) but he didn’t rush anything from 3 and looked more in a rhythm. He also found his way inside the arc quite often. It didn’t matter who was on him...Jaxson Hayes, Naji Marshall, Jonas Valanciunas. There were no answers. His assertiveness and comfort level attacking the basket led to him getting to the foul line quite often as well.
Jaren Jackson is important to this team. We’ve seen the defensive impact pay dividends for this team, as they’ve surged towards becoming a top-10 defense after a putrid start on that end. Now, the offense is needing to catch up as we’re entering the most crucial stretches of the season. We’ve seen the flashes throughout the year, and tonight was a strong example.
Hopefully, this isn’t just a flash, and that it’s the start of a strong run here for Jackson.
Desmond Bane: 22 points (8-17 shooting, 5-9 from 3), 6 assists, 5 rebounds, +/- +39 (Grade: A-)
Desmond Bane continued to put together a stellar bounce back from his shooting slump, as he drilled 5 three’s — which is now 17 three’s in the past 4 games, really all starting in that 2nd half of the Celtics game.
His scoring, as well as his scoring variety, were on display. He also showed everyone that he’s more than a specialist as well. To counter the Pelicans size, the Grizzlies needed a mob mentality on the glass, and Bane played a big part with 6 rebounds. He also provided a strong dose of secondary playmaking, as he finished with 5 assists.
Bane’s offense is important to the team’s halfcourt offense. His shooting opens up driving lanes, while also giving Jenkins another weapon to design sets for. His shot creation gives the Grizzlies someone else that could create offense. Then, his playmaking helps promote the Grizzlies’ ball-movement heavy system, while letting Ja Morant go off the ball.
- Ja Morant (A): Ja Morant probably would’ve gotten a triple-double if the game wasn’t so out of reach by the fourth quarter. He looked in control of the entire game, looking unfazed by whatever the Pelicans defense threw at rim. He was able to finish within the trees of the Pelicans defense as well. He got some looks at CJ McCollum, and he looked pretty comfortable doing so (McCollum is the certified Grizz Killer). He also gave us quite a treat with the eye-level alley oop in the 3rd quarter.
- De’Anthony Melton (A): The Grizzlies got hot from this game, and Melton played a big part of that. He connected on 4 of his 8 triple attempts, finishing with 14 points. His 3-point firepower is going to be very important down the stretch.
- Steven Adams (C+): It wasn’t the typical Steven Adams game, as he only finished with 5 rebounds and 3 offensive rebounds. Though he didn’t corral a lot of rebounds by his standards, Jonas Valanciunas also only had 2 rebounds. So it kind of levels out, eh?
- Ziaire Williams (A): Ziaire Williams was a big factor on offense last night, as he tallied 16 points on a nice 6/9 shooting. What stood out is how he sought after the ball on the offensive glass. He finished with 4 offensive rebounds, as two of them came on back-to-back putbacks. Very good showing from the rookie.
The Grizzlies get a couple days off before facing the New York Knicks at home on Friday.