In Dillon Brooks return: The Memphis Grizzlies were attempting to extend their winning streak to three games. On Sunday, they faced the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both sides wore white jerseys to begin the game, but the Grizzlies quickly changed into dark blue attire.
Dillon Brooks made his comeback as well, starting for the first time since suffering a sprained ankle in early January. With Brooks back, the Grizzlies’ injury list remained empty. The Thunder has lacked eight players, including Josh Giddey, a promising rookie.
The Grizzlies scored 38 points on 59 percent shooting in the first quarter to take a 12 point lead. The second quarter was a complete 180. The Grizzlies seemed bored against a Thunder team hungry for a win, much like they did against the Houston Rockets. Lindy Waters III’s eight points and Darius Bazley’s seven points led the Thunder to a five-point second-quarter victory.
The Grizzlies began to pull away in the second half. The Grizzlies were more aggressive on defense and moved the ball well in the third quarter than in the second. Grizzlies had 30 assists on 48 made baskets and kept the Thunder to a 42% field goal and 31% three-point shooting percentage for the game. The Thunder made a late comeback attempt, trimming the Grizzlies’ lead to six points. Critical plays down the match helped the Grizzlies win 125-118.
Dillon Brooks—15 Points, 4 Assists, 6-14 FG, 1-3 3-PT
Dillon Brooks appeared rusty in his first game back. One could expect from someone who hasn’t played in almost two months. Even so, there were flashes of all you want Brooks to be in the future. His shot was a little off, but he was able to go into the paint and score a couple of easy dunks to help him get into a flow. Brooks’ tenacity and hustle on both ends of the court are the most crucial aspects of his game. It was evident that he had not changed.
Brooks had improved the facilitation compared to prior years with some remarkable assists. Dillon Brooks will have to improve in the future if the Grizzlies are to achieve their ultimate aim of winning a championship. Also, he is delighted with his performance in his first game back.
Brooks did not appear to be out of place. He created space on the floor for teammates to drive and attack while also choosing aggressive locations. Brooks backed up Gilgeous-Alexander and scored a layup for his first points, then added a dunk in traffic. To show why he was the team’s second-leading point scorer after Morant. Brooks scored 15 points on a 6-for-14 shooting in 26 minutes. He made one of three 3-point attempts while also dishing out four assists.
Desmond Bane Memphis Grizzlies—21 Points, 7-15 FG, 3-5 3-PT, 8 Rebounds
Following the All-Star break, Bane was buried in a depression. But he’s been recovering his form in recent games. Against the Thunder, he scored in the paint, on the fastbreak, and from beyond the arc. A winning game three-pointer and crucial free throws. He had 18 points and eight rebounds to lead the club, one shy of his career-high. In four of his previous five games, Bane has scored 20 points or more, putting him in serious consideration for Most Improved Player.
Ziaire Williams—11 Points, 4-8 FG, 3-5 3-PT, 3 Assists, 3 Rebounds
In Dillon Brooks return, one of the biggest concerns was the effect of Ziaire Williams. Ziaire Williams’ scoring average has increased from 5.5 to 9.4 points per game. Since being moved into the starting lineup on January 9th. His three-point shooting has improved. He’s also formed a strong bond with Ja Morant, who frequently finds Williams for easy dunks and open threes. After more than two months in the starting lineup, He is back on the bench. Any young player may find it difficult.
Moreover, for someone who will turn 20 in September. He was able to answer some of those questions. And locate open shots from behind the arc in the second unit. The Grizzlies’ development of Ziaire Williams as a 6th man might provide much-needed scoring off the bench in the future. It will be fascinating to see his progress.
Ja Morant— 17 Points, 10 Assists, 5 Rebounds, 7-14 FG
After more than two months in the starting lineup, He is back on the bench. Any young player may find it difficult. Moreover, for someone who will turn 20 in September. He was able to answer some of those questions. And locate open shots from behind the arc in the second unit. The Memphis Grizzlies development of Ziaire Williams as a 6th man might provide much-needed scoring off the bench in the future. It will be fascinating to see his progress.
Other Grades: Memphis Grizzlies
Jaren Jackson Jr.— 18 Points, 5 Rebounds, 5-13 FG, 2-4 3-PT
When Jaren Jackson Jr. has an offense, the Memphis Grizzlies have a good chance of winning. This competition was no exception. Jackson started the game with two three-pointers and a blazing start. He cooled off later in the game, making only two of his next nine shots. It was solid defensively, despite not having the usual block totals. Also, he was able to modify attempts at the rim that could have determined the game’s outcome. Jackson also did a fantastic job of staying out of foul trouble, averaging a plus/minus of +20 in over 30 minutes.
Free throw shooting: A+
The most frustrating part about the Memphis Grizzlies season has been their inability to hit free throws. The Grizzlies have shot just 73% from the free-throw line on the season. Also, bad enough for 28th in the league. They shot 18-20 from the free-throw line. Including clutch free throws from Desmond Bane to seal the game. The Grizzlies can get this part of their game together.
The Grizzlies players have preached in response to that topic. Thunder game was the best example of what they have preached into that question. The ball was constantly moving and frequently found an open man. All five starters and nine other Grizzlies players got multiple assists.
The Grizzlies had a total of 30 assists. When they have 28 or more assists, they are 22-0.
Photo credit: nba.com