Postgame Report: Grizzlies fall to Bucks in final seconds 112-111
Key Stat of the Night
- Entering tonight, games involving either the Grizzlies or Bucks were being decided by nearly 15 points per game, win or lose (Memphis, 14.9 points; Milwaukee, 14.8 points).
- The Grizzlies snapped an NBA-record tying streak of 18 consecutive games in which the final margin was at least nine points.
- Memphis played its first game decided by three points or less since Jan. 16 vs. Philadelphia. Milwaukee’s last game decided by three or fewer was on Feb. 10 at Phoenix.
Key Run of the Night
- The game featured five lead changes and one tie in the final 40 seconds. Jrue Holiday made an 11-foot step back jump shot with 2.0 seconds on the clock, answering Ja Morant’s layup that came with 7.3 seconds remaining.
The Memphis Grizzlies came up just short of a statement win against the Milwaukee Bucks, falling 112-111 on Thursday at FedExForum.
Ja Morant took over the second half to spark a furious comeback and finish with 35 points, six rebounds and five assists, making him the first Grizzlies player ever to score at least 35 points in consecutive games. Dillon Brooks scored 23 points with a season-high seven assists while Jonas Valanciunas notched his 20th double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Giannis Antetokounmpo went for 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and Khris Middleton tallied 22 points and 10 rebounds. Pat Connaughton and Jrue Holiday both added 15 points off the bench with Holiday knocking down the game-winner with 2.0 seconds remaining.
A slow offensive start had Grizzlies down early as the Bucks showed off active hands on defense and excellent 3-point shooting in the first quarter. The Bucks shot 50 percent from beyond the arc in the opening 12 minutes as Antetokounmpo racked up seven points, three rebounds and four assists.
The Grizzlies’ offense came to life through Brooks in the second quarter, but the team still had no answer for the Bucks defensively. A fast break alley-oop from Morant to Winslow brought the game within single digits with two minutes left in the half. The Grizzles trailed 61-51 going into the locker with Brooks scoring 15 points in the half. Antetokounmpo lead the Bucks with 14 points.
Morant’s 16 third-quarter points led the Grizzlies as they came storming back with a 19-8 run. The Grizzlies went back to their bread and butter, attacking the rim and finishing through contact to bring the game to an 84-84 tie after three quarters.
The Grizzlies held a tight lead throughout the fourth quarter by keeping Antetokounmpo mostly in check while leaning on the late-game impact of an attacking Morant. The teams went back and forth with five lead changes in the final minute, but a mid-range jumper from Jrue Holiday to take the lead and a missed chance to win it at the buzzer for Desmond Bane was the difference.
The Grizzlies will come back after the All-Star break to tip off the Second Half of the regular season against Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, March 10 at 7 p.m. CT at FedExForum.
On the last play of the game:We were trying to set up a lob there. They did a really good job with our activity on the pass, so they made it tough. We had to go to a second option. I thought we had a great look, just didn't make it. Aside from that, what a heck of a game from our guys. They were unbelievable. We only shot 39 percent and still had a chance to win. Our guys turned it on in the second quarter, third quarter, heck of a fourth quarter. Really proud of our effort tonight.
On Ja Morant’s performance:Yes, very encouraging. I thought Ja [Morant] was aggressive and had a lot of great looks that just weren’t falling for our entire team. Early in the first quarter, we had tons of great looks, not even just from the 3-point line but right around the rim. Paint touches, they weren’t falling, but we just remained aggressive. We just kept telling the guys to keep playing the right way, keep playing aggressive, we’re getting great looks. Just find a way to get a few more stops. I think we had zero fast break points in the first quarter and 11 in the second and just kept building from there. Credit to our guys to just stick with it despite a really slow start. The guys were fantastic. I thought Ja had some big plays, big finishes, stepping up shooting all those threes with confidence. It’s great to see.
On tonight’s game:I thought our guys were phenomenal - offensive execution, defensive execution. A couple plays didn’t go for us, but I think it’s great experience. It’s been a minute. We’ve talked about that as a staff and to have this kind of in front of us, I thought our guys handled it really well with their communication on the floor, the timeouts. They went out and did what they needed to do and just came up a little bit short. I’m really proud of the learning opportunity that these guys got tonight.
On the first half of the season:I just hit on when you head into the break, just take a minute to think about what we’ve accomplished in the first 32 games. With a lot of different things that have been thrown our way, I think our resiliency, our togetherness, our positivity throughout all this has been unbelievable. It’s allowed these guys to find ways to get better and remain competitive every single night. I think over the last two weeks we’ve built up some momentum. It’s not all about the wins and losses, it’s about how hard you’re playing, how well you’re playing. I think we’ve done that. It’ll be good to get a break because we have a heck of a schedule coming out starting next Wednesday. It’s good to fill our cups back up, get a little break from basketball, clear our minds, but then come back and recognize what we’ve been able to do in the first 32 games together at a pretty consistent level the last two weeks especially. We just have to keep riding the momentum and find ways to get better the next few months.
On what he liked from his offense:I felt like we got our pace going a little bit there in the second quarter, not as much in the first quarter. They were trying to pick us up low and go under. I thought our pace in the half court got better, moving the ball side to side, coming in to screen and flipping screen angles so we could get downhill. We had some big finishes and some great dump-offs, as well. I thought we stuck with the game plan - unique coverage that they threw out there. I think to score 54 points, pretty good. Obviously, we want more but I feel like our guys, especially against a team that just tried to wall it off, we were able to find a way to get through.
On the fight this team has to come back a from a big deficit:"I think that's big time for us. We just got to continue to play hard no matter what the score is. As you can see, the past two games we played before this one we were up big and we continued to play hard and we were able to come up with a win. Like today, we were down, came out in the second half playing very hard and how we need to play and, in a position, to win the game. I feel like as long as we continue to play like that each and every night for 48 minutes we'll win a lot of basketball games."
On Ja's plans for the All-Star Break:"I plan on being with my family enjoying that time off. Rest my body."
On comparing Grizzlies to higher caliber teams:"I honestly don't care about the other team. I'm just focused on Memphis Grizzlies. Each and every night I got confidence we're going to win the basketball game. I feel like that answered your question on how I feel the other teams."
On the last inbounds look of the game:"They played good defense on the last play to force us into another option we had to look for. Missed the shot. Came up short. Tough loss."
On adjusting after the 1st quarter:"I just kept shooting the ball and my teammates kept telling me to continue to shoot the ball. I was able to get going."
On playing AAU basketball with Devonta Shuler:"He was a bucket then. He's a bucket now. I think a lot of people are starting to see that. Good dude. Special talent. He can get it going in the AAU, he was that guy on our team that averaged 30 a game. I feel like he's starting to get comfortable and get his groove and show how talented he is. That's my guy. A lot of people are starting to watch him and actually looking at him. Hopefully I'll see him here soon...in the league."
On how the team has improved and grown:"I feel like we got a lot of guys that are capable of doing a lot on the floor. Tonight, I feel like we showed our hustle, our dog, our fight being down 18, coming back and being up late in the game, losing by one point. I think they said the game was tied five times, six lead changes. That's big for us especially being down earlier."
On Dillion Brooks:Dillion is a guy that plays really hard always. He was out for a bit, but he was inspired to come back and play better and harder. It’s been really fun seeing him shooting it well, seeing him pass it well, and seeing him play well on defense.
On positives from the game:Obviously, you want to win every game. We were in a really good spot to win this game. Just a couple of fouls and a couple of shots as well. It feels really good because that team was really good. That is a team that we have had issues with in the past. For us to get better, for us to play them better and be in a great spot to win the game in the end, it’s something that’s great for us. I feel like we can take positives from this game and build off of that.
On in-game adjustments:Our team is really good. We have so many guys that can play in the end and so many guys that can play the whole game. It’s kind of tough on the coaching staff. I think that Coach Taylor (Jenkins) did a good job putting the right guys out for this team and putting out the right dudes who are going to give us a chance to win. Our team is great. We have so many guys who can be on the court to give us a great chance to win. It’s a challenge that the coaches have, but as players we all just love playing together as a team. There are so many rotations that can be put out there on the court at any time. It’s just kind of cool to play with different guys and see who finishes games against certain teams.
On his views of the first half of the season:The first half was a good half. It was filled with ups and downs really. We have goals of making it to the playoffs so we have to play better in the second half if we want that goal to be true. If we can carry on the basketball we have been playing in the last few games and if we can build off that, we have a great chance to finish the goals that we want to have finished this year.
On what he plans to do over the All-star break:Just chilling and taking care of my body. The break isn’t really that long. I’m just going to be chilling in the sun really. Just hanging out with some friends and family and staying safe. I will be taking care of my body and I will be right back to it. The break is super short. It’s not like you can go out and do much. I’m not going to treat it as a break too much, but I’m still going to make sure my body is in check. I’m going to have a nice couple of days off.
On Covid-19:It was crazy to just see last year. Hopefully we can all learn from it so that something like that doesn’t really happen again. That was tough, but now it kind of feels like it’s the norm now. Everyone is being more clean now. I feel like it’s honestly harder to get sick now. I feel like everyone has done such a great job with their mask and keeping their hands clean. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again. It was definitely a weird year, but I’m hoping that this year is more positive and less pandemic stuff hopefully.
- Ja Morant recorded 35 points, six rebounds and five assists in 39 minutes.
- Morant (who had 35 points, five rebounds and 10 assists on March 2 at Washington) averaged 35.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in his final two games of the First Half of the 2020-21 season.
- Morant became the first player in franchise history to score 35+ points in consecutive games.
- Morant is the first Grizzlies player to score 35+ points in consecutive games since Marc Gasol did so in a franchise-record three straight contests from Jan. 21-27, 2017. Morant is one of 13 players in NBA history to record 35+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists in consecutive games within his first two NBA seasons. The other 12 (in chronological order) are Oscar Robertson, Rick Barry, Earl Monroe, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Bernard King, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young and Luka Dončić.
- Morant scored all 35 of his points in the final three quarters after being held scoreless in the opening period.
- Morant had 28 points in the second half, including 16 points in the third quarter.
- Dillon Brooks added 23 points and a season-high seven assists to go with three steals and three blocks. Brooks entered the game averaging 21.3 points for his career against the Bucks, his highest scoring average against any single opponent.
- Jonas Valanciunas posted his 20th double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
- Justise Winslow grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds off the bench.