Postgame Report: Jonas Valanciunas leads Grizzlies past Hawks 118-101
Key Stat of the Night
- The Grizzlies outscored the Hawks 38-18 in the first quarter. Memphis has won three different quarters by 20-or-more points this season, and all have come this week: 43-20 (+23) in the fourth quarter on March 2 at Atlanta; 36-14 (+22) in the fourth quarter on March 4 at Brooklyn; and 38-18 in the first quarter tonight.
Key Run of the Night
- Memphis had two 7-0 runs in the first quarter to go ahead 26-9 with 4:18 remaining in the first quarter. The Grizzlies led by 38-18 at the end of the first quarter and led by as many as 26 points in the second quarter.
The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Atlanta Hawks 118-101 on Saturday night inside FedExForum, where the Grizzlies have now won 15 of their last 18 games on their home court.
The Grizzlies got rolling early with Jonas Valanciunas leading the way in the first quarter. Valanciunas tallied 12 points and five rebounds on 5-of-5 shooting in the frame. Memphis used a 26-6 run to stretch their lead to 28-11 with 2:48 remaining in the first quarter. Josh Jackson scored 10 of his 17 points in the opening period, helping the Grizzlies to a 38-18 lead after one quarter of play. Memphis stretched their lead to as many as 26 in the second quarter at 60-34 following a put back from Valanciunas. The Grizzlies big man finished the first half 9-of-10 from the floor for 21 points, 10 rebounds and one block. Memphis carried a 66-45 lead in to the halftime break on 52 percent shooting while limiting Atlanta to just 29.8 percent shooting in the first half.
Atlanta scored the first seven points of the third quarter to cut the lead down to 14 points at 66-52 in the first 1:04 of the second half. The Grizzlies immediately pushed the lead back to 24 points thanks to strong play from their second unit. Atlanta ended the third period on a 13-4 run as they trimmed the Grizzlies lead to 93-78 following a three-pointer from Trae Young to end the quarter. Ja Morant entered the night ranked sixth in the NBA in fourth quarter scoring, and he showed why tonight, as he scored 10 of his 24 points in the final period to end all hopes of a Hawks comeback. Memphis cruised to a 17-point victory, improving their record to 7-3 on the second night of back-to-backs this season.
Valanciunas led the way for Memphis with 27 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks on 10-of-13 shooting as he posted his 32nd double-double of the season, which is good for 12th most in the NBA. Morant added 24 points, six assists and five rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting. Jackson led all bench scorers with 17 points, four rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes. Kyle Anderson totaled 12 points, five assists and four rebounds. Dillon Brooks pitched in 13 points, four rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes as Memphis moved to 32-32 on the season.
John Collins posted 27 points, eight rebounds and three assists on 9-of-16 shooting to lead Atlanta. Young added 16 points (4-16 FG, 1-10 3P) as Memphis was able to contain him from behind the arc. Jeff Teague totaled 10 points, three assists and two rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. Kevin Huerter added 11 points, six assists and five rebounds while knocking down 3-of-6 three-point attempts. Cam Reddish added nine points, two rebounds and an assists in 12 minutes as Atlanta fell to 19-46 on the year.
The Grizzlies will return to the floor to face the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, March 10 at 7 p.m. inside FedExForum. Limited tickets are still available at ticketmaster.com and the FedExForum Box Office. Fans can watch the game on FOX Sports Southeast or listen on 92.9 FM ESPN.
On tonight’s performance:Nice bounce-back win by our group. I really challenged them to come out with a focus of being the team that out-competes and out-togethers the other team. I thought our starters had a great response and got us out to that great lead during that first quarter. For the most part, we had a lead and in the third quarter, it got a little loose. The boards were hurting us and we were fouling them a little bit too much, but for the most part, we cleaned that up in the fourth quarter. I am proud of our group. It was a great team win after this kind of tough stretch of games, but obviously coming home and playing in front of our fans gave us much-needed boost. The people were grinding out there and just continuing to find ways to get better and win ball games and fans were huge for us. They propelled us.
On Josh Jackson:I think he has integrated himself very nicely. Credit to him. Credit to his teammates. We have been encouraging our guys to continue and try to find a way to attack as a team and be more physical. I feel like he was really embraced that. Playmaking at times, whether it’s pick-and-roll or fast-rate drive-and-kicks, I think he is doing a great job at that and just playing Grizzlies basketball offensively. Defensively, he is engaging in a lot of different mash ups, guarding wings and guarding point guards. I think his on-ball defense has been solid and he has been using his length in a great fashion. He has a great ability to be in good rotations, help us on the boards, and knock rebounds out. Sometimes we need him selfishly not always going for the boards, but setting up another team for the tap-out. I think he is contributing in a winning way.
On Trae Young:It was a great effort by our guys and obviously a lot of different guys were thrown at him. I thought Ja [Morant] did a heck of a job. We were switching up quite a bit, so whether it was wings or bigs who got up on him [Trae], we trying to force him to force him downhill and force him to miss some tough shots. We tried to keep him off the free throw line, it has been huge for us to keep him off and just make him take tough shots. I know he got a couple of open ones but we tried to make him really work for everything.
On Jonas Valanciunas:Like, I’ve said all season long, he finds a great way to lay to his strengths. I think he has really found a comfort zone within our offense. Defensively a, him being a rim protector and paint protector and finishing off those rebounds is huge. He has gotten comfortable with where he can make an impact on both ends of the floor. Tonight, he has seven offensive rebounds and 10 defensive rebounds. As you talk about these big stretch of games where he is going a making a big emphasis on cleaning up the boards. Sometimes I hope someone goes in there and snatches one from him because he is doing so much work and we do give up so many second chance points and we’ve got to get better in that area.
On the dependability of the bench:The bench has been huge for us all season long, but especially in this recent stretch. We have had different guys stepping up as we have had to have different guys out. It has awesome I have sad it before, it does not matter which five guys I put out there, they play our style of basketball and they compete at our level. Whether it’s been a mixture of starters and bench or all starters or all bench, our bench has been huge for us.
On International Women’s Day and Niele Ivey impact on the team:Niele has been amazing. Actually, I think this was her 10th scout victory, so everyone is super excited. She is the ultimate hard worker. This is her first year in the NBA and she has already been so unbelievable with not only our coaching staff, but even more so with our players and the relationships she has developed with these players. She has done an amazing job on the court and the game prep and putting the players in positions to go out and be successful like all of our coaches. As a coaching staff, we spend so much time pouring into our players with the player development, the film work, the vitamins. Her playing career and her coaching career she has made a huge impact in a short amount of time.
On tonight’s game:I think we were able to grind it out. Coming off a back-to-back and the schedule we’ve had, we’re just trying to grind it out. Every game matters now, so we just want to keep going and keep pushing. We’re going to keep getting better with it.
On the key to holding Trae Young to one three pointer:Just being physical. I think our physicality really helps our team, so we just want to be physical every game.
On Coach Niele Ivey:She’s helped a lot. Her knowledge of the game is crazy. She knows what winning is and she knows what winning feels like. When we’re getting off track, she’s definitely there to pick us back up and tell us what to do and what to see. Playing with her college team, she knows the game a lot so it’s really helpful for us.
On how level-headed the Grizzlies are:Maturity—I think we’ve definitely grown even though we’re all young. I think we know the game a lot. We know basketball has a lot of ups and downs. Even with the vets, they were talking to us and they instilled a lot of stuff in us that we just have to keep chugging along. It’s a long season. With us, we still get up for every game. We’re just out there having fun, being excited, playing defense.
On the last five games:Fun, fun, fun to play like this. Fun to win the games. We need some W’s, so it’s been good the last week, besides yesterday.
On if he’s watching the standings:Yeah, it’s that time of the year, right? We’re watching the standings. You want to climb higher and higher. Wins are really important right now.
On the rest of the season:We still have 18 games to go. We have to get some more wins. It’s on us to do it. I think, lately, we’ve been playing great basketball. Yesterday might be a step back, but today we, especially after the loss yesterday, we came in and knew what we needed to do better. I think we executed really well today. We need more games like this.
On if he expected this level of performance from the team at the beginning of the season:We’re a young team. It’s not going to be overnight. We put a lot of work in and that pays off. We’ve been working. We’ve been working on individual skills, we’ve been working on team skills. You have to spend some time together to be good. I think that is paying off right now.
On if he expected this level of comradery:As a young group, you expect the best. It’s great right now. We’re together. We support each other. We play together, that’s the most important thing. We enjoy basketball, that’s what it’s all about, just enjoy it. Go out on the court and enjoy basketball. You get 10 minutes, you get 20 minutes, you get 35 minutes, you just go out there and enjoy it. I think everybody does that and it’s been great.
- Ja Morant continue his NBA Rookie of the Year campaign with 24 points (8-12 FG), five rebounds and six assists while shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point range, tying a career best for threes made. Morant has shot 10-of-15 from three-point range (.667) in his last five games.
- Jonas Valančiūnas totaled 27 points (10-13 FG) and 17 rebounds, including 21 points (9-10 FG) and 10 rebounds before halftime. Valančiūnas made his first nine field goal attempts tonight after making his final five shots last night at Dallas. His 14 consecutive makes (before missing a tip-in at the end of the first half tonight) were one shy of tying the franchise record of 15 straight by Marc Gasol over a two-game stretch from Nov. 14-18, 2009.
- Josh Jackson scored 17 points off the bench. Jackson is averaging 17.0 points in his last four games, scoring at least 16 points in every game.
- Two-way rookie guard John Konchar grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench.
- Vince Carter played his final game in Memphis tonight. The 43-year-old Carter, currently playing his league-record 22nd NBA season, is the only player in NBA history to play in four different decades and spent three seasons with the Grizzlies from 2014-17.
- John Collins led Atlanta with 27 points to go with eight rebounds in 39 minutes. Collins has scored at least 25 points 15 times in his 39 games this season.
- Trae Young scored 16 points but was limited to 1-of-10 shooting from three-point range.
Fans who want to support the Memphis Grizzlies and purchase 2019-20 Season Tickets can do so by calling (901) 888-HOOP or going online to grizzlies.com. Single Game Tickets are available for purchase at the FedExForum Box Office, ticketmaster.com, online at grizzlies.com or by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX.