November 27, 2022

The Memphis Grizzlies returned home after a brief trip to Brooklyn to take on a Sacramento Kings team that has blundered the league through a six-game winning streak.

The first quarter was really a back-and-forth affair fueled by the three-point offense. Both teams sought drive-and-kick opportunities that led to tight looks starting on 3, as the Grizzlies and Kings combined for 9 3-pointers in the first quarter. After the parade of 3s, Ja Morant announced his return in typical fashion – relentlessly getting into the paint for his own finishes or for his shots for his teammates. The Grizzlies led 31-28 after the first period.

Years Jackson Jr. set the tone with his power on the Kings to jump-start the second quarter. He attacked the basket again and again, punishing the kings for their lack of size on the inside. In the midst of that thought, the game still kept going back and forth. However, the Kings managed to build a lead to close out the half – thanks to the dynamic offense of Kevin Huerter and De’Aaron Fox. The Grizzlies ended the half 5, 64-59.

The Grizzlies tried to quickly cut the deficit to start the quarter, cutting it to 1 just over 2 minutes into the game. However, it was short-lived. The Grizzlies grew icy, and the Kings fueled their attack with it. The Kings entered the 4th quarter with a 12-point lead (88-76).

The 4th quarter was exciting, but it didn’t start early. The Kings extended their lead to 14 at the start of the quarter as the offense continued to stagnate. It felt like the game turned when Ja Morant hit a 3 from the logo just before the shot clock expired.

From there, the Grizzlies ramped up their defensive intensity to wreak havoc and generate turnover. On top of that, Ja Morant continued to make his way downhill and on the edge to clear the backlog. After a missed layup by Sabonis with less than 5 seconds left, Morant pulled a three-shot foul with a three-point deficit. However, he missed the former and was then called for a lane violation when he attempted to miss the latter intentionally. Morant scored 20 of his 34 points in the final period.

The Grizzlies were unable to complete the comeback efforts and fell 113-109.

Quick takeaway

  • The Grizzlies are missing Desmond Bane. The Grizzlies are missing their sharpshooting 2 guard. Amid their offensive slump in the 3rd quarter, Bane’s impact and absence became even more apparent. Teams can hide the paint to tighten the lanes for Ja Morant because they don’t show enough respect to the Grizzlies’ shooters. His extra style of play and shot creation provide another dynamic for the Grizzlies to unlock offensively, giving them more offensive diversification. When Morant goes out, Bane steps in as the go-to option to captivate the attack in those minutes. Life is a lot easier with an elite shooter who is the other half of a top-notch NBA backcourt.
  • There is a new threat joining them in the Western Conference. Yes, the Sacramento Kings are legit. They move the ball so well that they generate tight looks from 3. De’Aaron Fox plays like a bona fide All-Star, and his running mates Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk in the backcourt provide scoring sparks. They have a nice mix of versatility, speed and play that makes this system buzz. It’s early in the season, but it looks like the Sacramento Kings will be battling the incumbent contenders — like the Grizzlies — who are vying for a place in the top-6.
  • Years Jackson Jr. makes for a sick blow. Years Jackson Jr. continues to find his groove offensively. He attacks the paint and makes contact to fight his way to the finish line or stumble to the free throw line. While there are defensive issues, he did a good job of solving some of them with his great activity – he got away with 7 shares in this game. If this is the version of Jackson the Grizzlies are getting this season, the Grizzlies will be fine once they get healthier.

The Memphis Grizzlies are off until Friday, when the New Orleans Pelicans come to town.

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