Postgame Report: Grizzlies rout Pistons for seventh straight victory
Key Stat of the Night
- Memphis shot 49.0% overall while holding Detroit to 34.3% from the field. The Pistons were limited to 40.0% or below in all four quarters.
Key Runs of the Night
- The Grizzlies led 62-46 at halftime and expanded their lead to 30 points with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter after forcing the Pistons to miss nine of their first 10 shots to begin the second half.
- The teams were tied 8-8 early in the first quarter before Memphis scored 17 straight to take the lead for good.
The Memphis Grizzlies routed the Detroit Pistons, 118-88, to win their season-high seventh consecutive game.
Ja Morant recorded 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Grizzlies while Dillon Brooks added in 18 points, three steals and two blocks in his return following a six-game absence while in health and safety protocols. Ziaire Williams impressed in this first career NBA start with a career-high 14 points and two steals on 5-for-8 shooting. Tyus Jones came off the bench with 14 points (6-7 FG), four rebounds and four assists.
Saben Lee paced the Pistons with 14 points and five assists. Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, tallied 12 points but was held to 6-of-19 shooting in his first game at FedExForum.
Memphis shot 49% from the field and poured in 70 points in the paint, the Grizzlies’ league-leading ninth game with at least 70 paint points, while holding Detroit to 34.3% shooting.
The Grizzlies sprinted out to an early lead thanks to a 17-0 run midway through the first quarter and led by 62-46 at halftime. Memphis then forced Detroit to miss nine of its first 10 shots to open the second half and built its lead to as many as 31 points in the final frame.
Memphis earned its 17th win in the last 21 games.
The Grizzlies hit the road for the first leg of a Los Angeles back-to-back against the Clippers on Saturday, Jan. 8 at 2:30 p.m. CT. Fans can watch at Bally Sports Southeast and listen live on ESPN 92.9 FM.
On Ziaire Williams:Just a lot of credit to Ziaire. He was huge for us tonight. He really set a tone. His activity, deflections, a couple steals, knocked down some early shots for us that gave us some momentum. But he and I have talked over the course of the season, obviously, he was out for a little stretch there with an injury and he said, ‘That was great. I actually got to take a step back and kind of just watch games and just get a feel for where I’ve had success, what I need to keep working on.’ He’s humble during the process. He loves to work. We bring in guys who love to work, but he’s really taken advantage of every single day, just figuring out where he’s got to get better. Defensively, I feel like he’s gotten better. Offensively, tonight’s a great example of just playing within the offense, playing within himself. Earlier in the season, trying to read the game, the speed of the game, we talked about a lot of physicality of the game. But I love how the kid comes out, competes, plays a lot of activity and the ball just kind of found him tonight in a couple of different situations because he put himself in those positions. So, a lot of credit to him. I love the work he’s been putting in, but he’s actively said this has been great just to have these opportunities, just to take a step back, keep reading the game, seeing the game and it’s going to pay off big in the long run for him.
On being able to keep players minutes down now that players are back from Health and Safety Protocols:This time of year it’s great when you can really get deep into the bench and guys aren’t playing high 20s, they’re playing mid to low 20s. That’s bigtime. A lot of guys stepped up tonight. Starting lineup having (Dillon Brooks) back. I thought he was great tonight, Ja (Morant) was great, Ziaire (Williams) was great, (Jaren Jackson Jr.) was big in the second half for us. But, then Tyus (Jones) and (Brandon Clarke). We’ve been talking about the spark that they keep giving us. Those guys were great tonight. We’re working guys back into the roster. It’s definitely an opportunity right now to kind of figure out the rotations. When you’re able to see a lot of different guys go out there and compete tonight, there’s just more for us to kind of work off of moving forward. But, when you don’t have to stress guys that much, especially because I think we’re in the middle of five and seven, eight and twelve. It happens in the NBA. Anytime you can preserve some of your energy and legs moving forward, it’s bigtime.
On how the game plan changes when you have a 20-point lead:It’s obviously the NBA. It’s the classic, there’s no lead that’s safe, especially when you get to 20 at any point in the game. But, we’re just business as usual. Guys are the ones coming into timeouts saying keep working, keep going, keep going on the run, keep getting the same stops, keep up the activity. So, I give them a lot of credit. They understand what it takes. I just come in there and I talk about the matchups, the coverages, what we need to execute maybe a little bit differently on the offensive end. Just keep reading the game, and just take it within the segments of the game and kind of let it take care of itself.
On the importance of setting the tone for a win:It’s bigtime. I’m always going to say you can win games in a lot of different fashions, but when you can come out holding a team to 18 points in the first quarter, that’s big. That kind of sets the stage for you, and luckily we had some feet on the offensive end. We had a really good first half. I thought we could’ve build the lead even a little bit more. I think, I can’t remember if we were like 18 or so at halftime or 16 at halftime, but every night, different challenges. We knew this team was going to come in and be very competitive, very scrappy. I mean, (Saddiq) Bey had been playing really well. I thought our attention to detail in the game plan for him was phenomenal. (Jaren Jackson Jr.) started on him. A unique matchup for (Jackson Jr.). He’s not always guarding shooters or shooting bigs or wings that are pretty dynamic. He did a great job. Obviously, (Cade) Cunningham’s been playing pretty well. I thought we did, for the most part, a pretty good job on him. (Dillon Brooks) played great with the physicality, Ziaire (Williams) on him. Josh Jackson, the punch off the bench, I thought we did a good job there. So, the guys understood what the game plan was. I thought they did a great job to set that tone in the first quarter. I talked about we’ve just got to keep building that. Luckily we were able to build our lead after halftime going into that fourth quarter.”
On returning from health and safety protocol:It felt great. I love being with these guys. I was depressed being away. I just love watching and seeing the same effort and when I get out there guys just make it easy to play basketball. I’m just glad to be back. It’s just great to have all the guys back. We’re able to get some more chemistry going and, as you can see, we just plug in and play defense and play off of our activity. Great win and let’s keep it rolling.
On Ja Morant and All-Star voting:It doesn’t surprise me at all. He deserves every single credit he gets. He put in the work this summer, he put in the work in rehab with his knee and came back even better. He’s one of the best competitors I’ve played with. So just watching the team grow, and playing against the Lakers, Phoenix, good teams like that, getting battle-tested. Our defense was holding throughout that time which is the best thing we can hang our hats on. This was a great team win.
On Morant’s improvement from last year:He can score, he’s adding to his defensive game, he’s active on both sides of the floor, guys cannot stay in front of him, and on top of that, he can pass the ball. That’s why I think he’s the best. And when he’s got the three going like you’ve seen in the game before, it’s almost unguardable. That’s why I think he’s the best point guard in the league. He brings it every single night. He’s never off. That’s why I love playing with this guy.
On building team chemistry:A lot of games haven’t been played together, but guys just plug into the system. It’s good to have the lineups out there for a lot of games over time and get to more lineups and stuff like that. When you start playing with guys it just builds the chemistry. It helps us as well. We’re figuring out how to win regardless of guys being out or whatever the case may be.
On his mid-season grade of the team:We’ve just got so much more to give. I feel like B+ is good. Our defense has been solid every single night. It’s fun coming into the workplace every single night and balling out with these guys. It’s great. It’s good energy. Guys love to come to work every day and see each other’s faces. You know me, I love to talk so I was surprised these guys were happy to see me.
On Ziaire Williams:He’s just a sponge. He picks and chooses his spots and once he starts going in that direction that he is, he’s going to be a monster. I feel like he’s going to grow about two more inches. I don’t know what it is, but my first two years, Jaren grew two more inches so let’s hope on that.
On additional offensive load with teammates sidelined:I’m just in a good rhythm right now trying to be aggressive, trying to take what the defense is giving me. Obviously it helps playing more minutes with guys out. It felt like I was in a good rhythm when Ja was out and I had to play a lot more minutes. I’m just trying to keep it going and try to stay aggressive, get to my spots and take my shots with confidence and it’s working for me.
On the team’s defensive improvement:We’re just being more active. We’re getting deflections, steals. Our bigs are doing a good job of protecting the rim. We’re just way more active right now. It feels like we’re on a string, like we’re all connected. One guy gets beat, the next guy is there to have his back and so forth so, we’re just connected. We’re buying into the gameplan. It’s working for us so we continue to trust in it.
On several teammates returning from health and safety protocol:It felt weird for sure but it was good. The last couple of weeks just felt weird. Obviously, we were going backwards in terms of the COVID situation so that was unfortunate, but it was good to have everyone back. Everyone’s not back playing yet but it was good to have everyone back around. It’s special because we have such a good group.
On the team’s expectations:We just try to handle business and do what we know we’re capable of. We feel like we have a great team. We feel like we have all the pieces that we need to do something special and we believe that full-heartedly. The coaching staff believes in us, we believe in the coaching staff. From top to bottom, everyone involved in the Grizzlies organization, we know we’re in this together. Everyone does their role and their part and it all plays a role into having success. I just think we believe in us, we believe in Memphis, and we don’t care what anyone says or doesn’t say about us. We just put our head down and keep working.
- Memphis has won seven straight games and will look to tie the single-season franchise record with an eighth straight victory Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers as the Grizzlies begin a back-to-back in Los Angeles.
- The Grizzlies have won 17 of their last 21 games dating back to Nov. 28, outscoring opponents by a league-leading 13.3 points per game over that span. Memphis’ 26-14 record represents the team’s best 40-game start since the 2014-15 season.
- Memphis’ 30-point win established the franchise’s largest margin of victory ever in its overall series with Detroit (previous: 28 points in January 2014).
- The Grizzlies outrebounded the Pistons 61-39, including a 43-29 advantage on the defensive glass.
- Memphis, which leads the NBA in points in the paint (54.7), scored 70 in the paint tonight. It marked the Grizzlies’ league-high ninth game with 70+ paint points this season.
- The Grizzlies improved to 18-2 this season when scoring 110+ points.
- No Memphis player played more than 27 minutes, as the Grizzlies began a stretch of three games in four nights.
- Ja Morant finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 25 minutes. Morant recorded his fourth straight game with at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, which ties the second longest streak in franchise history (behind only his own six-game streak in November 2021).
- Dillon Brooks scored 18 points in his first game following a six-game absence while in health and safety protocols.
- Ziaire Williams, who made his first career start, set a new career high with 14 points, matching his previous personal best with 11 points in the first quarter.
- Tyus Jones added 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting off the bench.
- Steven Adams had two points to go with a game-high 14 rebounds. It marked Adams’ league-high 11th game with double-digit rebounds and single-digit rebounds.
- Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, played his first game in Memphis and recorded 12 points, five rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes.
- Saddiq Bey was held to three points on 1-of-9 shooting. Bey entered tonight averaging 23.6 points in his previous 10 games.