Postgame Report: Grizzlies outrun Clippers in 122-94 win
Key Stat of the Night
- The Grizzlies scored 72 points in the paint after entering tonight tied for the league lead in the category (54.0). Memphis scored 42 paint points by halftime, extending its streak of scoring 40+ points in the paint to 76 straight games, the longest streak on record since the NBA started tracking play-by-play data in 1996-97.
Key Run of the Night
- The Grizzlies scored the final eight points of the first half as part of a 10-2 run that broke a 51-51 tie and gave Memphis a 61-53 halftime lead. Ja Morant made two layups to bookend assists on consecutive 3-pointers by Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Anderson. The Clippers never regained the lead in the second half while Memphis extended the margin to as many as 30 points late in the fourth quarter.
Tyus Jones turned in a career night as Memphis continued showcasing its depth in a 122-94 victory over Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
Jones was the spark off the bench for the Grizzlies as he set a new career high with 20 points in 15 minutes, becoming the 10th different player to lead the Grizzlies in scoring this season, a number that leads the NBA. Jones, who became the first player in franchise history to score at least 20 points in no more than 15 minutes of playing time, shot 9-for-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Jonas Valanciunas recorded a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds and Ja Morant added 16 points and seven rebounds. Dillon Brooks scored 19 points in his return to the lineup after he was sidelined the previous three games with right thigh soreness.
The Grizzlies wasted no time working the paint in the first quarter. Morant and company fed the big man Valanciunas early and often resulting in seven points and four rebounds to lead Memphis in the opening period. Memphis scored 42 paint points in the first half and 72 for the game, extending its streak of at least 40 points in the paint to 76 games, the longest streak on record since the NBA began tracking play-by-play data in 1996-97.
Normally a stellar 3-point shooting team, the Clippers did most of their damage on the drive. Long-range shooting was held in check until the Clippers lit it up at the end of the first quarter to grab a three-point lead.
Jones led the reserve lineup to a fast offensive start in the second quarter, making six of his first seven shots and distributing to create scores for Xavier Tillman Jr. and Brandon Clarke. The Grizzlies’ went on a second quarter run sparked by a high-flying, fast break alley-oop from Grayson Allen to Morant, but All Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George made sure the lead went nowhere until back-to-back threes from Valanciunas and Kyle Anderson put the Grizzlies up 61-53 at halftime.
The Grizzlies controlled the third quarter with a 14-4 run and 16 points in the paint. Jones came back with the hot hand in the second half to add to his career-best total. The Clippers went cold shooting in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies continued to dominate the paint on their way to a 30-9 run in the final quarter to win 122-94. The 28-point win represented the Grizzlies’ largest margin of victory ever over the Clippers.
Leonard led the Clippers with 17 points while George was held to 13 points. The Clippers moved to 23-11 with the loss and dropped to 11-5 on the road.
The Grizzlies will meet the Clippers at FedExForum again on Friday night for the second half of the two-game series at 7 p.m. CT.
On the team’s performance:I definitely think it’s one of the best of the season. This is more of the Grizzlies basketball that we expect in these sessions. I’ve said it to the team these last couple of days, just finding consistency. I’m really proud of the edge we came out with. I thought we had a ton of great looks early in the first quarter. We missed some layups. I think we missed like 12 shots in the first half around the restricted or paint area, but we just kept sticking with our plan of just activity on the defensive. Our guys were flying around, contesting the 3-point line a whole lot better, the urgency out there, guarding one-on-one with better physicality. Our team activity was off the charts. And then, I said it in the pregame session about just getting back to our pace and we had 21 fast break points. I can’t remember the last time we had that. So, I felt like our activity really fueled our offense. But, the play on both ends of the floor was just really consistent for 48-minutes. Great result, but we know we’re going to have a tough challenge tomorrow against a great team again tomorrow. So, we’ve just got to find ways to get better and find even more consistency one game to the next.
On Tyus Jones:Awesome career night for him, and I just give him a lot of credit. I know he had a couple of struggles in recent games, but he’s the ultimate pro, the ultimate team guy, always staying engaged, putting in the work as much as he could over the last week or so, having faith that he was going to break through. He and I talked about it, the assistant coaches and him have talked about it, but he’s been fully engaged like the ultimate pro and the ultimate worker, and this is just a product of that. So, I’m just really proud of him. Obviously, he’s huge for us with the spark he gives us off the bench. He was huge for us tonight in that first half helping us build a lead, and then even building another lead there on the lead that we already had there in the second half. So, really proud of the work that he keeps putting in. It doesn’t faze me in the least to see what he did the last couple of games.
On defending the 3-point line:We had the urgency to defend the 3-point line. That’s been something that’s just come in waves with our group over the course of the season. Our shift activity is a priority for us, taking away the paint. Obviously, they’re a really good mid-range shooting team too, so showing crowds, and then just getting up to the 3-point line with better urgency and trying to deter catch-and-shoot threes. Teams are still going to shoot at a high rate, they still got 34 threes off, but can we impact those a little bit more. Can we have heavier contests? That’s something that we’ve been struggling with the last couple of weeks. So, I think our guys, just after kind of getting back to our basics yesterday about our urgency to defend the 3-point line no matter who we’re playing, it just so happened we’re guarding the probably one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, especially number one, I think, percentagewise. It was just a commitment to the energy to get out there, and then they did a really good job moving the ball and putting us in scramble situations. I thought our guys did a really good job. They hit a couple, but just to have the mentality to be super active defensively, I think was kind of a difference maker for us tonight.
On Justise Winslow:Just one game after another, he just continues to get better. Just finding his legs, finding that confidence and getting back on the floor. And you can see it in his face, you can see it in his play, especially tonight. I just think his defensive ability sets a tone for us one-on-one, guarding pick-and-rolls, impacting the ball, disrupting offenses. I thought he did a heck of a job on a number of matchups tonight, obviously with (Kawhi) Leonard, (Paul) George and Lou Williams getting his hand on balls, and just playing with great pace on the offensive end. You know it’s still going to take us time to get him acclimated and get him fit in with his teammates and building that chemistry, but I thought that the pace that we play with allowed him to have some success in transition, getting downhill, shooting from the outside, getting to the free throw line. When he plays with that aggression, that’s all he was focused about the first couple of games, was just go out there and attack your game. And, it’s paying off and we just expect him to get better and better as he continues to play more.
On returning:It is great to be back. I just felt weird like I haven’t been out for like 60 games since my second year. It is great to be back, I just wanted to bring a fire when I came back. We did that, we played well, we were sharing the basketball, we were playing defense, we were energized. It was good, we have to keep it rolling.
On Grizzlies depth along the perimeter:You can include Kyle (Anderson) in there too. He defended Kawhi (Leonard) very well too. That's a three little tandem right there. We get those three guys going on defense, it is just contagious. That’s what we need every single game out there, to bring that grit, that grind and just play hard as hell.
On his new perspective of the game:I learned to bring the intensity every single time. I am not worried about shots, not worried about how the game is going. I work on my craft and I work on my game every single day. I just trust it and trust my teammates. Then just learning what guys like, learning how we lost those two games and just trying to be a difference maker. I tried to do it out there, guys were finding me and I was just making shots. I am going to guard every single game.
On first game playing with Justise Winslow:I feel like it is a great fit. He loves to defend just like me, we just pass guys off, and just stay out of foul trouble. On offense he loves to pass and loves to get other guys involved. He is a downhill driver, so he brings a lot of attention from the defense and he knows how to make the right plays. I have been waiting for him since the bubble. Now it is just coming into flourishing. Justise is getting confident out there and is making moves that he was making before the injury. I am proud of him for coming back and playing hard every single game.
On the Grizzlies confidence after a win:We get it from each other, we feed off each other. When one guy gets rolling and then another guy just gets the confidence to step into the shots. It is contagious like I said before and a couple of questions ago. I have to bring it every single game. You know my teammates know that we are ready to go and that it just bounces off of players and the coaches. It is just contagious.
On tonight versus last couple games:I feel like our energy was there. I feel like we were all locked in and out there competing. I feel like our talk was very high level. We knew our teammates had our back while guarding the ball. That led to some stops and we were able to get out and run.
On Tyus (Jones) playing well:I feel like we need that from Tyus every game. He’s a smart player. He knows when to attack and be aggressive, and he also knows when to look for his teammates. He’s a smart point guard. He always makes the right plays. Tonight, he helped us big time coming out and scoring 20 points. I feel like that helped us a lot. Especially leading us on a run and being able to hold on to it.
On not being named an all-star:No. I’m just happy we were able to come out with a win today. I don’t care too much about that. That’s in the past. My focus right now is on winning basketball games.
On what Grit and Grind means to him:I definitely feel like we showcased that today with how we were flying around the court, getting stops, going after loose balls, rebounding the ball, and just showing our fight out there. I feel like when we do that, we are a very good team and it leads to very good offense for us. As long as we keep that going, we’ll be in a very good spot.
On Jonas Valanciunas:That’s big time for us. Jonas is our guy down low. He battles. He’s definitely a monster in the paint. When he gets the ball down there, you can pretty much count it as a bucket. Offensively giving us extra possessions and defensively limiting teams to one shot is big for us. It allows us to get out in transition.
On the extra rest day:Yes, I feel like it was. We were able to regroup with a practice and see some things we could correct. I feel like that was a big-time transition from us. Learning from our mistakes in the past and fixing them this game, we were able to come out with a win.
On how to carry the momentum into the second half of the season:I feel like it’s very important. I feel like as long as we continue to play like this, no matter what’s going on during the game we will be fine. It was a lot of positive tonight for us and it led to a win. As long as we keep it going, keep learning from our mistakes, keep coming as one team, keep being unselfish, we will be a very good team.
- Tyus Jones was the spark off the bench for the Grizzlies as he set a new career high with 20 points in 15 minutes.
- Jonas Valanciunas recorded a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
- Ja Morant added 16 points and seven rebounds.
- Dillon Brooks scored 19 points.