The Memphis Grizzlies took a couple of pretty powerful haymakers from the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 3. In the first quarter the Timberwolves thoroughly outplayed Memphis, leading to a 39-21 dominant lead. But the Grizzlies punched back in the 2nd quarter and got the lead down to 7 by halftime. Unfortunately, the Timberwolves delivered another powerful blow in the 3rd quarter and the Grizzlies were not quite able to overcome that as Minnesota had a 16 point lead entering the final frame.
Then, the fourth quarter happened.
The Grizzlies continued to scratch and claw, fighting their way back in to the contest on an 18-0 run that helped Memphis get within 3 points with 9 minutes to play. The team tied things up some possessions later, showing a remarkable refusal to lie down and take it when taking those body blows. In any fight, the person willing to keep swinging and refuse to accept anything less than going to the brink that has the best chance to win.
The Memphis Grizzlies are the basketball version of that fighter. And they won in large part because of it.
Some takeaways from a special night in the history of this era of Grizzlies basketball.
Jaren Jackson Jr. must be better
He had massive moments for Memphis in this game. Key steal here, a solid switch there. But far too consistently he fell out of the rhythm of the game, both on and off the floor due to foul trouble. He picked up two fouls completely removed from the play - one on an offensive screen under the basket on a Ja Morant drive, the other battling on the perimeter for position with Karl-Anthony Towns. There is a major difference between fouling out due to a mix of poor officiating/trying to make winning plays and losing sight on how much you matter to the Grizzlies, especially defensively. He made a massive block that led to points on the other end late in the game...if he had fouled out, that obviously never happens.
His awareness of game situations and where he is on the floor has to improve for the Grizzlies to reach their potential, both in this series and beyond.
Desmond Bane is that dude
After two relatively quiet games from Bane in Memphis, Desmond exploded in Game 3. 7 made threes on 15 shot attempts were so massive for the Grizzlies as they came at key moments in the contest more often than not. The team needed Bane to step up, and he did so - especially in the 2nd half. He was massive during the 4th quarter run/Minnesota collapse. This builds confidence for a Grizzlies team that already wasn’t too short on it.
If Bane can help them win when Ja Morant struggles, this team has quite the future in front of them.
- Shout out to Brandon Clarke. He was, to the lacking Jaren Jackson Jr., what Bane was to the lacking Ja Morant. Clarke was effective on the glass, was a staggering 8-8 from the free throw line, and his defense on Karl-Anthony Towns helped limit one of the most important offensive weapons the Wolves have. With his 20 points and 8 rebounds he showed he’s ready for a larger role, and that while Ja Morant should be getting an extension this summer early on that he should not be far behind.
- Tyus Jones, with stones. His poise and ability to navigate the storm remains so important for a Memphis team that is young, but has scar tissue from previous postseason shortcomings. With Tyus’ steady hand (and willingness to take/ability to make the big shot), Memphis is never too far away if Morant is struggling with his shot. It is so valuable to have such a strong 2nd point guard.
- Ja Morant had a triple double in a bad game for him. His Game 4 will be absurd...if he is healthy enough to do so. He showed flashes, but the Minnesota scheme was clearly designed to stop Morant. He must dive in to the film and see how the Timberwolves attacked him, and find the counters/weak side passes more consistently. He will find it. He’s 22 years old.
Game Four is Saturday night in Minnesota. For now, Memphis, enjoy. The Grizzlies just pulled off the largest comeback in their playoff history.