The Grizzlies' loss to Oklahoma City Wednesday night was easily the most frustrating loss of the season, and unfortunately, it overshadowed the best game of Brandon Clarke’s
young NBA career.
Props to OKC because they clearly just wanted this win more, coming back from a 24-point deficit and wearing the Grizzlies down, to take a 126-122 win in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder also had an unexpected X factor — Dennis Schroder, who led all scorers with 31 points, 22 of which came in the second half.
By the numbers:
* Brandon Clarke finished the night with a career-high 27 points, 7 rebounds.
What went wrong?
- Jonas Valanciunas had another monster game offensively, with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists.
- Ja Morant scored 22 points, along with 5 rebounds and 7 assists.
- Dillon Brooks finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists, shooting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.
While the Grizzlies have notably struggled during 3rd quarters this season, it was in the 4th quarter where the proverbial wheels fell completely off Wednesday night. Things started going downhill towards the end of the 3rd quarter, when the Thunder went on a 19-5 run, capped off with a buzzer-beater by guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
. The Thunder followed that up by outscoring the Grizzlies by 11 points in the 4th quarter.
A few more of the factors that contributed to this dumpster fire of a loss:
- Turnovers, foul trouble, and free throws.
- Eight Grizzlies turnovers in the 4th quarter led to 10 points for the Thunder.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies only managed to score two points off of four OKC turnovers.
- Memphis getting into the penalty with five minutes left in the game.
- OKC shot and made ten free throws in the 4th; Memphis made 2-of-4 free throws.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. In foul trouble and benched two minutes into the 4th quarter.
- Ja Morant missing two critical free throws with 1:19 remaining in the game.
- Poor coaching decisions through the final 10 minutes of the game.
The foul call against Jaren Jackson Jr. at the 10:12 mark should have been contested by Coach Taylor Jenkins. Jackson was called for his 5th personal foul against Thunder center Steven Adams
, even though the replay video appeared to show Adams tripping over his own foot.
This is exactly the sort of play where the coach’s challenge should have been utilized. If not on that one, certainly on another bad call on ball possession at the 9:02 mark, which allowed OKC an extra possession which led to a field goal.
Understandably, Jackson was subbed out for Jonas Valanciunas after that 5th personal foul, but it made absolutely zero sense for him to sit the entire rest of the game. There is no universe in which Solomon Hill
should be on the floor in a close game situation while Jackson still has one foul remaining.
Let's hope this was a learning experience for Jenkins as well as the team.
Who Got Next?
The Grizzlies are headed to Cleveland to face off against the Cavaliers Friday, December 20th, at 6 p.m. CST.