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Quick Recap: Grizzlies defense comes up big in win over Cavaliers

The Memphis Grizzlies tie their franchise-record with their 11th straight win in a 115-114 thriller over the Cavaliers

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies came into tonight looking to win their 11th-straight game, which would tie a franchise record. The Cleveland Cavaliers were their opponents tonight, and even though they were missing Donovan Mitchell, they are still a tough challenge — and perhaps the most difficult matchup the Grizzlies have had since their back-to-back against the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings.

The Grizzlies started out slow, as the Cavaliers jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the early portion of the quarter. However, the Grizzlies pulled back into the game through the downhill prowess of Ja Morant, and the brute force of Steven Adams. The Grizzlies closed the quarter looking more in the flow, as they led 31-30. Bad news though, Ja Morant went to the locker room for a neck injury.

Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane helped fuel a monster run for the Grizzlies in the second quarter, blitzing the Cavaliers in a 20-0 run. The defense was swarming, and they were turning it into offense — while firing audacious 3’s as well. The Cavs unfortunately closed the gap, as the Grizzlies led 65-58 at halftime.

To start the half, Jaren Jackson Jr. entered foul trouble, forcing Taylor Jenkins to sit him for the remainder of the quarter. Santi Aldama came in and provided the sauce — sneaking his way downhill for cool finishes, and shooting the 3-ball as well. However, the Cavs chipped away at the Grizzlies’ lead, then tied it. The Grizzlies trailed 91-89 going into the 4th quarter, and it was going to be a power of trends here for Memphis:

The 4th quarter was mad real. Desmond Bane started to cook from beyond the arc, and even hit a beautiful step-back jumper. Then, Ja Morant and Darius Garland traded blows back and forth, putting on one heck of a show orchestrating their teams down the stretch. The Cavs relied on the two-man game of Garland and Evan Mobley down the stretch.

In the last 30 seconds, Jaren Jackson stifled Garland on two separate occasions — including a block on a drive. Then, Morant missed a layup down the stretch, but Steven Adams was there to clean things up to give the Grizzlies a lead. Finally, Dillon Brooks was tasked with stopping Garland on the final possession, and blocked his 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

The Memphis Grizzlies close with a 115-114 win, tying the franchise-record for longest winning streak at 11 games.

Quick Takeaways

  • Plaster the last 30 seconds onto the tape for Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks’ All-Defense case. Darius Garland was cooking all night, dissecting the Grizzlies’ defense with his scoring and his passing chops. He shifted his way throughout the floor, sought after advantages, and found open scoring opportunities. However, the Grizzlies’ relentless defensive duo rose to the occasion. Jackson took Garland on a switch with under a minute left and forced a tough stepback — then stayed on him after an offensive rebound to swat his drive attempt. You don’t see many big men do that. Dillon Brooks has been struggling as of late, but tonight was one heck of a villain moment. Garland tried to dance his way to a clean look from deep, and Brooks was glued to him and ultimately blocked his game-winner attempt. They’ve been a devastating defensive duo all season long, and that sequence should be added to the tape for their case.
  • Steven Adams, always reliable. Steven Adams didn’t replicate his usual rebound numbers against the incredibly tall frontcourt of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. However, he still contributed in a major way. He helped the Grizzlies get out of that rut at the start of the game with his scoring and screening. More emphatically, he scored his first game-winning bucket off an [you guessed it] offensive rebound.
  • Santi Aldama, the space and funk. Santi Aldama continues to provide a nice spark off the bench. He connected on 4 three-pointers, setting a new career-high for 3’s in a game. He added some pizzazz with a skyhook over Evan Mobley, and though it didn’t count, he caught people by surprise with an in-between-the-legs dunk after forcing Garland into a shot-clock violation. He’s become an unsung hero off the bench and a fascinating piece for this team.

The Grizzlies hit the road for 5 games out West, as they look to continue their winning ways.

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