The Memphis Grizzlies continued their home stand and looked to extend their winning streak to five against the Detroit Pistons. Memphis won the previous meeting in Detroit by 10 in a game marked by spectacular plays from Ja Morant.
Carrying some momentum from their last victory, the Grizzlies started the game strong and took an 11-point lead; however, the young Pistons team would not leave easily. Led by Kevin Knox and Marvin Bagley III, the Pistons came back all the way and took the lead early in the 2nd. However, the Grizzlies fought back with a 20-8 run and took an eight-point lead before halftime. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks led the way with 12 points while Morant had 6 assists.
As the 3rd quarter began, it was clear that Morant and the Grizzlies were on a mission. After scoring seven points the entire first half, Morant scored 8 in the 3rd quarter alone, sparking a Grizzlies run that would move them 20 up going into the 4th quarter. The Pistons would go on a run late in the 4th, but the Grizzlies would extend their winning streak to five with a 114-103 victory.
* Steven Adams left the game in the 4th quarter with an ankle injury, but said “he’s fine” after the game.
Now it’s time for notes:
Jaren Jackson Jr – A+: 20 points, 8-12 FG (3-5), 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals
Jackson has improved in every aspect of his game since last season and it was in the spotlight against Detroit. It all starts on the defensive end, where he had 4 blocks tonight and played a slew of shots at the rim. Jackson also continues to do so while avoiding fouls for the first time in his career and has become more active when it comes to steals and deflections.
Jaren Jackson Jr. finished last season with 177 blocks (2.3 PG) and 272 fouls (3.5 PG)
So far this season, he has 32 blocks (3.2 PG) and 30 fouls (3.0 PG).
Perhaps the most important part of his growth
— Bryson (@BrysonWright3) December 10, 2022
Offensively, he has embraced his size mismatch and continues to be more aggressive and efficient on the inside. So far this season, he’s shooting 59% on his 2-point field goal attempts, up from 48% last season. He was able to score in the post, on the lobs and on the drives to the basket while continuing to be more active on the boards. A healthy Grizzlies team with this version of Jackson will be tough to beat.
Brandon Clarke – A+: 17 points, 7-8 FG, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Brandon Clarke scored 17 points for the second straight game and had his 5th straight double-digit game for the Grizzlies. He was active in the pick-and-roll, getting multiple assists from Morant and Tyus Jones. He was also active on the glass with seven rebounds, including two on the offensive end.
Despite some early-season struggles, Clarke’s play has been an integral part of the Grizzlies during that five-game winning streak, especially in the last two games. The Statistics shows he’s shooting better from the floor and scoring more in home games, so watch Clarke to continue at this level of play in the last two home stand games.
Ja Morant – B: 15 points, 6-20 FG (0-7 3-PT), 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block
Apart from a streak early in the third quarter, Morant struggled with his shot, but he also finished a game over/under (+22). This was mainly because of his ability to affect play even when his shot didn’t drop. Five other Grizzlies finished in double figures against the Pistons, and the Grizzlies finished with 30 total assists. Morant had 12 of those assists and was the driving force behind the Grizzlies offense, even on an off night.
He also had a huge impact on the defensive end with 3 interceptions and 1 absolutely spectacular block at the rim. Morant’s improvement at that end of the field hasn’t been talked about enough nationally, but it’s clear his defensive adhesion has been key for the Grizzlies on the stretch.
Grizzlies Paint Score and Defense
The Grizzlies have made a point of dominating teams in the paint since their Grit and Grind days and this game was no different. Of their 114 points, 68 of them fell in the paint. Against most NBA teams, Memphis has a frontcourt size mismatch and they have exploited it during their 5-game winning streak. Over the past five games, the Grizzlies have averaged 62 points in the paint, which is the most in the NBA.
Rim protection has also been another hit point for the Grizzlies, especially since Jackson’s return. As a team, they had 11 blocks tonight and allowed just 40 runs in the paint. During the streak, they only gave up 38 PITPs per game, which also leads the NBA during this streak. Their paint presence at both ends of the pitch was the catalyst for the streak.
Overall rating: A
The Grizzlies continue to capitalize on their opportunities at the FedEx Forum, going 11-2 at home this season after their 6th straight home win. It was a very balanced performance as the Grizzlies moved into 2nd place in the West behind the Pelicans. With two home games remaining on the home stand, we’ll see if they can continue to solidify in the Wild Western Conference.