There are no moral victories; a loss is still a loss. However, a young Grizzlies team can take positives away from Saturday night's loss to the Lakers — and learn from it.
Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Ja Morant performed like the Grizzlies must have envisioned they would when they were paired together. It was the first time this season that Jackson and Morant scored 20+ points in the same game.
Morant ended the night with 26 points, six assists, and a career-high five steals in 33 minutes. It was Morant’s eighth game of 20-or-more points this season. The rookie point guard entered the game averaging 23.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 6.6 assists in 27.3 minutes in his last seven home games.
“I think it just flat out shows (our game)," said Morant about the loss to the Lakers. "That no matter what, we can be in ball games and win ball games. We weren’t able to close out tonight, but tonight showed what type of team we are and who we want to be. I'm never satisfied with losing, but I can say I’m satisfied with how we played tonight. We played together, competed to the end and just came up short.”
Morant had many "wow" moments in the game. See below.
Jackson added, "We understand that if we bring it we’re always gonna be in ball games. Little things like that, we learn more and more every day. We have to focus on our effort because our youth and energy can sometimes win out if we’re running hard and we’re playing defense and we’re scrambling and wearing teams down and playing in transition. So, I think those are the things we’ve gotta focus on.”
Jae Crowder chipped in a season-high 21 points while knocking down 4-of-9 from the three-point line.
After the game, Crowder said, “We have to play better on any given night. I feel like we brought it tonight because of who we were playing. Good teams bring it every night, no matter their opponent, so once we learn from this game, we can continue to build, take this to Indiana and get us a win on the road. It’s definitely something to build off of.”
Crowder acknowledged that the team doesn't bring it every night. "I think it’s just being with a young team," he said. "Knowing that shots may not fall on a nightly basis but your effort and energy have to be there on a nightly basis. So you have to take care of your bodies and be prepared to play at a maximum level each and every night.”
Kyle Anderson came off the bench and garnered 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists while shooting 5-of-11 from the field.
LeBron James led all scorers with 30 points, six rebounds, and four assists, while grabbing his 9,000th career rebound.
What They Said!
Taylor Jenkins, Grizzlies head coach
On the game: “Heck of a game by our guys. I’m super proud of their efforts from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. One-point loss against the best team in the league. I know there are no moral victories, but how our guys competed for 48 minutes, I’m beyond proud given how we played the last two games. (We) had a chance to win at the end — a couple of plays on offense, big time rebound at the end that we have to learn from, but we got significantly better today, and I’m proud of how they played. If we can play like that every night we give ourselves a chance.”
On Jackson Jr.’s contribution to the offense: “For him to be very versatile, plays off the bounce, hitting threes. … He’s an inside-out player. It’s huge for his growth. He’s still really young in his career, so as he’s identifying those opportunities to be in attack mode I think it really benefits our offense. We need another dimension outside of just our point guards being playmakers. To have him be a playmaker for us is huge.”
On the Grizzlies’ youth: “Like I said to them after the game: super proud. Their effort was unbelievable. Our defensive activity set a tone to start the game. If we can play up to that standard night in and night out you’re going to hopefully have a chance to win more ball games. Obviously, in the fourth quarter, a couple of moments there where we have to execute a little bit better. But what they were able to do for a majority of the game, that’s where we have to be. That’s what we’ve hung our hat on. A week ago, it kind of slipped away from us, but if they can kind of engrain that into their mind, this is what it is. This is the fun style to compete that way. I’m super proud, and that’s the Grizzlies I love to be a part of.”