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Recap: The Grizzlies Hustle for their first Vegas Summer League Win

The Grit and Grind era lives on!

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2022 NBA Summer League - Minnesota Timberwolves v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies Summer League team returned to action on the 2nd night of a back-to-back to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves Summer League team, hoping to shake off a very forgettable Saturday night blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. It is Summer League so of course, this matchup with the Timberwolves was very different from the 1st round playoff series with the previous regular rosters, but there is some familiarity for the city of Memphis with former Memphis Tiger, Josh Minott, on the Timberwolves Summer League roster.

There was a change in the starting lineup, as the “veterans” Ziaire Williams and Xavier Tillman received the night off. They were replaced by Vince Williams Jr. and the Summer League star so far, Kenneth Lofton Jr.

Santi Aldama started the game much better than he’s been this Summer League with 3 early baskets at the rim to score an early 6 points. A huge part of his struggles was missing easy shots at the rim, so this start was huge for a confidence boost.

Another interesting thing to note was the new Grizzly Danny Green sitting courtside with Taylor Jenkins, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Kleiman, Ja and Tee Morant, and Tyus Jones amid trade speculation. It might mean not anything but interesting (and good) to see.

Back to the game, Santi Aldama continued his impressive offensive start ending the 1st quarter with 8 points on 4-5 shooting and 2 rebounds. Also, Tremont Waters came off the bench to score 7 points to help lead the Grizzlies to a 4-point lead at the end of the 1st quarter, 21-17. The David Roddy-Tremont Waters chemistry has stood out to me during this Summer League stint.

The turnover bug reared its ugly head in the 2nd quarter with 5 turnovers from the Grizzlies to allow Minnesota to take a 3-point lead near the midway point. Santi Aldama would calm the team down with some timely baskets including some hustle plays that led to baskets to help keep pace with the Timberwolves to a tie score at halftime, 31-31.

A fun matchup to watch throughout the first half was Kenneth Lofton Jr. vs Josh Minott, as both players displayed a physical style that led to really good defense and tough shots when guarding each other. Also, shooting was horrible for both teams in the 1st half as both teams combined to shoot 2-32 from 3.

The horrible shooting continued in the 3rd quarter, but the Timberwolves seemed to find a way to get easier shots at the rim to jump out to an 8-point lead. However, solid defense and sloppy play from the Timberwolves allowed the Grizzlies to make a run to regain the lead to end the 3rd quarter, 47-46.

Both teams started to make a couple of 3-point shots and got it going a little bit in transition to begin the 4th quarter. After the media timeout, the Grizzlies made a run with active hands on defense to create transition opportunities to win the game 70-63.

It was a very ugly shooting game and hard to watch at times, when you add in the turnovers from both teams, but the Grizzlies “grit and grind” their way to their first win in Las Vegas. Now let’s get to some grades:

2022 NBA Summer League - Minnesota Timberwolves v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Santi Aldama - A- (22 points, 8 rebounds, 6 steals, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, +13 +/-)

A much-needed outing from the 2nd year big man. Santi was the big talk following Saturday night’s blowout loss to the Clippers for his lack of development from his rookie season, and he answered the call against the Timberwolves. Anytime the Grizzlies needed a bucket to end a run by the Timberwolves, Santi was the go-to guy. Although scoring 22 points on 22 attempts isn’t ideal, his aggressiveness towards the rim was good to see. Also, he made a concerted effort to be everywhere on defense.

Kennedy Chandler - B (10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, +2 +/-)

Kennedy Chandler struggled with his shot, but his defensive intensity continued and was integral down the stretch of the game. Another good sign to see was his 6-8 free-throw shooting (75%) as that was a weakness of his (61% in college) upon entering the NBA.

Kenneth Lofton Jr. - B- (4 points, 10 rebounds, 5 turnovers, -4 +/-)

Junior had his worst shooting game and led the team with 5 turnovers but affected the game in other ways, specifically rebounding. His physicality was still on display and his defense on Josh Minott helped the Grizzlies pull away for the victory.

Tremont Waters: B+ (16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, +10 +/-)

Tremont Waters continued his impressive Summer League run as a spark plug off the bench. His 1st quarter-scoring run helped the Grizzlies gain the lead after trailing for most of the quarter. Also, Tremont Waters was the only Grizzly to hit multiple 3-pointers and shoot halfway decent from beyond the arc (2-5).

David Roddy: B (10 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 3 turnovers, +10 +/-)

The 1st round rookie draft pick continued his jack of all trades role off the bench to good results. Although he was 2nd on the team with 3 turnovers and shot 0-5 from 3, David Roddy had his imprints all over the ball game with some bully ball plays and defensive pressure.

Overall Grade: B

Shooting 3-31 (9.7%) from 3 is definitely not what we want from this young team but finding a way to win despite that has to be commended. Good defense always seems to find itself in any Memphis team and is a standard at this point. All wins are not pretty but continued development is a priority and that was shown in this gritty performance.

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