The Memphis Grizzlies entered a highly anticipated game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, their first matchup following their playoff streak and the Rudy Gobert trade. The national TV spotlight and the new City kits added to the mood coming into this game.
You could tell the adrenaline was flowing early – long shots and stupid fouls. However, offensive firepower was hot on goal. The first quarter felt like a duel between the duo of Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant and the tandem of Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. They traded buckets pretty seamlessly. The Grizzlies attacked the Wolves’ fall coverage with the middle-distance play, and the Wolves found their way into the paint and to the free-throw line. The Grizzlies ended the 1st quarter with a 33-30 lead.
The Grizzlies stormed out of the break to start the 2nd quarter and extended their lead to as much as 13. While Desmond Bane found his groove at halftime, the run was fueled by good ball movement and defensive stops. Foul problems began to reign over both teams when Towns caught his 4th foul – and Rudy Gobert, Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke each caught their 3rd foul. The first half ended with a dazzling trade from Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards as the Grizzlies led 72-63 to end the second quarter.
The Timberwolves started the third quarter with more urgency and took the lead over the Grizzlies. Then Desmond Bane happened. Though Ja Morant was taken out with nasty problems midway through the period, Bane stepped forward to deliver the offensive punch needed to resist Minnesota’s surge – scoring 11 points and sharing 2 assists. The Grizzlies recaptured their defensive strength and went into the 4th quarter with a 12-point lead (96-84).
The Memphis Grizzlies continued their momentum in the 4th quarter, mostly maintaining their double-digit lead. Ja Morant brought that game to Lob City via a quick pit stop – and connected with Brandon Clarke and Santi Aldama in back-to-back alley-oops.
Later, Ja Morant converted an And-1 that gave Karl-Anthony Towns his 6th foul of the game. The Grizzlies eventually struck a deal, riding out of the 4th quarter to a 114-103 win.
- The Grizzlies picked apart the Rudy Gobert portion of their defense. The Grizzlies incapacitated the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. They attacked him in the pick-and-roll, using the separation created by the screen and switch to get to their sweet spots for buckets. The Grizzlies also just relentlessly attacked the paint without really caring that Gobert was protecting the rim. Their aggressiveness set the tone of the game for the Grizzlies as they worked their way to victory.
- The Grizzlies went about their business like big teams. The Grizzlies had a fair amount of togetherness in this matchup. They closed from the start, and their execution and urgency were rock solid. The Grizzlies saw some storms, mostly 3-point shooting and a few runs from Minnesota. However, they remained level-headed, stuck to their game plan and walked away with a win.
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