The Memphis Grizzlies had a contest against the Phoenix Suns last night to recalibrate after a loss that ended their 11-game winning streak. In the early going, they looked lethargic. Things weren’t going their way — shots weren’t falling, the Suns were in their flow, and the whistle wasn’t the absolute best — and it seemed like it got to their heads with their body language. As a result, they fell to a monster 29-point deficit.
They could’ve just quit and moved on to the next game. After all, they have another game tonight against the Sacramento Kings. However, they fought until the very end. They trimmed the deficit down to 15 before the 4th quarter, and got it down to single digits. Ultimately, they got it down all the way to a one-possession game, but they couldn’t pull away with a victory.
The Grizzlies displayed fight, and despite the loss and the early signs they showed, it was encouraging to see. Now, they’re 0-2 on this road trip with games against the Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, and Minnesota Timberwolves — and they need to put their road woes to the side and reengage, similar to the 4th quarter of last night’s game. They need to put it together for 48 minutes here to survive the rest of this road trip.
Ziaire Williams: 16 points (6-11 shooting, 3-6 from 3), 5 rebounds, +/- of +5 in 26 minutes (Grade: A)
An “A” grade in a performance this wishy washy? Yes.
It seemed like his heave at the end of the 3rd quarter helped the Grizzlies find some momentum, but everything Ziaire Williams did in the 4th quarter served as a catalyst for their comeback. Hitting his outside shots were great, but he also did a great job running the floor and getting to his spots in that quarter — using his size to generate baseline advantage and to fire mid-range jumpers. He also played some solid defense on Chris Paul.
The Grizzlies needed fight, a punch, an offensive spark in a game that lacked tons of it. Ziaire Williams became the solution for them down the stretch to make the game respectable and winnable.
In the last quarter, he flashed the 3-and-D skills the Grizzlies need off the bench, a role envisioned for Williams. He still needs to show consistency, but the amount of fight he showed in this game was promising.
Ja Morant: 27 points (9-17 shooting, 1-2 from 3), 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, +/- of -1 in 36 minutes (Grade: B-)
Ja Morant didn't separate himself from that funk in the first half. He seemed to force it offensively and to be affected by the external forces from the game.
However, Morant put things together in the second half to try to position the team to victory. He was aggressive seeking his shot, attacking the basket and the Suns’ weak rim protection at will — scoring 18 points on 6-9 shooting in the second half.
Though Morant tried to get his team rolling in the second half, the first half efforts made the deficit too insurmountable to overcome. Nonetheless, you can count on Morant to try to get the team rolling.
- Jaren Jackson and Dillon Brooks (Grade: C-): I grouped these two players together, because there was a common theme. They let their foul trouble outweigh the rest of their game. To give benefits of the doubt, Jackson didn’t get a shot in the 4th quarter, as he played the whole 3rd period and never came back in. Then, Brooks hit 2 of his 5 three-point attempts. However, they couldn’t impact the game as heavily as they usually do with their foul trouble.
- Desmond Bane (B): Bane was the only player that brought it in the first half, showing aggressiveness attacking the basket and seeking scoring opportunities. That mindset led to him converting on 9 of his 13 two-point attempts. The only critique from this game was his outside shooting. He hasn’t been shooting the 3 ball enough lately, and only 6 of his 19 shot attempts were from downtown last night — a mark a bit low for a shooter of Bane’s caliber. His outside shooting is pivotal for the Grizzlies’ offense.
The Grizzlies will look to bounce back tonight to avoid a 3-game losing streak.