After some questionable officiating, the Grizzlies relied on defense to win this one 98-97 against the Trail Blazers.

The Jekyll and Hyde Show continues for this Memphis Grizzlies team. They defeated the playoff-worthy Portland Trail Blazers 98-97 to improve their record to 7-4 on the season. The Grizzlies came into the night following a lethargic loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. They looked to turn the tides against Portland in rookie Dillon Brooks’s return to Pacific Northwest.

The first quarter opened as well as the Grizzlies could have hoped. Jusuf Nurkic picked up two early fouls within the first minute of the game. Memphis then hoped to control the boards a bit better on this rebound heavy team. Instead, Ed Davis put in solid minutes off the bench, getting pesky offensive rebounds that went a long way for second-chance points. The Trail Blazers had five offensive rebounds in the first quarter.

Overall, the Grizzlies came out with much more intensity than the Sunday night game in Los Angeles. They controlled the lead and momentum, taking advantage of Portland’s four turnovers in the quarter. The lineup of Chalmers-Evans-Parsons-Brooks-Wright took on big minutes but then gave up a 7-2 run to end the quarter, led by CJ McCollum’s 10 first quarter points. After one, the Grizzlies held an early lead 23-21.

The second quarter was quite a different show. For both teams, it was a slow, sloppy start to the quarter. There were missed shots and turnovers back and forth throughout, and the Grizzlies never really recovered through rest of the half. Memphis never got into a rhythm offensively. They did do a great job scoring off the turnovers Portland had in this quarter, especially Tyreke Evans with 9 points in the half.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of two quarters, the score was 50-47 Portland. Overall the Grizzlies played well enough to stay in this game. They weathered the first half of Dame Lillard shooting 2-10 with only four points, however, the other half of that backcourt duo, McCollum, had 15 points of his own in the half. The Trail Blazers scored 17 points off the Grizzlies’ 8 turnovers which was the biggest thing that had to change going into the second half. Gasol led the Grizzlies’ scoring with 11 points.

The third quarter was a much better one for the Grizzlies. They got back into their offensive groove and picked up a solid pace up and down the floor. Captain Mike Conley took the game over and put the Grizzlies on his back, getting back into this one with 13 points in this quarter. Only one turnover in the frame helped their cause as well. Memphis went down out the gates of the second half before Conley worked his magic.

The Grizzlies went on an 11-2 run to take the lead back midway through the third. The team reverted to their style of play, getting points off of Coach Fizdale’s sets. Gasol was taking his shots all game, so the defense had to pull out on him, allowing Conley room to work the paint for multiple driving “and-one’s.” At the end of three quarters, it was 74-71 after Mike drained a three to close out the quarter.

And, what a fourth quarter it was. It opened up with CJ McCollum continuing his dominance throughout this game with 8 points in the first four minutes. It went back and forth throughout the period with clutch shots by Mike, Marc, and Reke when the team needed them. The Grizzlies built a small lead up before the game got weird.

With about 45 seconds left in the game, in a crucial Blazers possession down two, the rook, Dillon Brooks, stripped the ball from Ed Davis and passed it to Tyreke who took it up the court before dishing it back to Brooks for a massive and-1 bucket, seemingly cementing this game in the Grizzlies’ control. However, a bonehead off play foul by Conley and a blatantly missed travel turned into another 3 from McCollum and it was only a one-point game. Next, a questionably reviewed turnover on the inbound pass for the Grizzlies resulted in Trail Blazers’ ball down one. Incredible defense by both Mike Conley and Dillon Brooks bothered McCollum enough to (finally) miss when it mattered most. Hammer. Nail. Coffin. Grizzlies won a close one 98-97.

Post-Game Thoughts

  • Tyreke Evans once again. Evans was the leading scorer in this game with 21 points. He continues to prove he was the best value free agent signing of this offseason. He also responded to some of the “team basketball” critics Tuesday by quietly having five assists on the night as well, second most on the team.
  • The bench once again contributed with 38 points tonight. Coach Fiz played some solid minutes with that second rotation unit at the end of quarters. They did their job again while Marc or Mike rested, so those two could show out in the clutch.
  • One learning experience on the night will be for Dillon Brooks. He had a great return to his “second home,” but Brooks was scorched by CJ McCollum all night. Yes, granted, it is CJ McCollum. That assignment was a very tall task for the rookie. Brooks will get to learn defensively from this game in hopes of guarding the best. Coach Fiz spoke on it afterwards, saying that Brooks needed to be thrown out there to all the best players to get him where he needs to be. Tonight amounted to just that.
  • Marc closed with 16 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists. Mike had 20 points and 6 assists.

Tuesday night was a huge team win for the Grizzlies to finish 2-1 on the West Coast leg of their road trip. Next game is Saturday in Houston against the Rockets.

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