After a sluggish start, the Grizzlies overcame their largest deficit of the season with a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, 119–112, at FedExForum Tuesday. The Grizzlies have won three in a row and improved to 16–22 on the season.
The Grizzlies have scored 110 or more points in nine straight games, marking the longest such streak in franchise history and the longest active streak in the NBA.
“What a game; obviously a great comeback win for us,” Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach Jenkins said about his team’s fourth-quarter comeback. “Didn’t start off with the edge that we needed to [have], which we had seen the last couple of games. Defense wasn’t there pretty much in the first half, maybe even until the start of the second half, but we just found a way, picked it up. To end up with 12 steals, six blocked shots — obviously Jae [Crowder] set the tone for us with five steals. JJ [Jaren Jackson Jr.] continuing to block shots, three blocks. You go down the whole roster: starters, guys off the bench, [all with] three, four-plus rebounds. Obviously we started making some shots in that second half."
Jenkins added, “I told the guys, ‘You know, they’re playing great in the first half, we just didn’t have it in the first half. We’re down five — we’ve got to pick up our urgency, pick up our aggressiveness on the defensive end.’ They’re hitting some good shots, they’re hitting some tough shots. Found a way to just get some more impactful plays on the defensive end. Just a huge run there in the fourth quarter. Obviously winning the third quarter was huge, being [that we were] down at halftime. One of our better come-from-behind wins this season. We talked about before the game [about] getting back in front of our home fans, about how the building was rocking in that fourth quarter. It wasn’t just the made shots.”
“When JJ hit that big three[-pointer], the crowd erupts, they call timeout,” Jenkins went on to say about his team’s late-game heroics. “But you could just sense our crowd just continue to stay behind us all game, especially when we were getting some big stops. The Timberwolves gave us a heck of a game for 48 minutes, it came down to the wire. Proud of the execution in that fourth quarter against some different coverages. Ja [Morant] with some big plays, JJ with some big plays, other guys with some big plays, really stepping up as well.”
Memphis recorded its 13th game this season with at least 60 paint points. The team leads the league in points in the paint per game.
“They are a team that plays with confidence, no matter of being up, being down — I give them credit,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said about the Grizzlies’ fourth-quarter push. “I think Taylor [Jenkins] is a very good coach too. I give that staff credit for having them ready and keeping them in. They got physical with us offensively and defensively, I thought. We just didn’t do a good job coming up with defensive rebounds,as well.”
The Grizzlies are 10–0 this season when third-year guard Dillon Brooks scores 20-or-more points. Brooks led the way for the Grizzlies with 28 points off of 11-of-20 from the field and 2-of-4 from deep to go along with three rebounds and a steal.
During their three-game sweep of the Timberwolves this season, the former Oregon standout has averaged 28.3 points, while shooting 53.7 percent from the floor and 68.8 percent from deep.
Jaren Jackson Jr. became the first player in NBA history to record at least three 3-pointers and three blocks in three straight games. Jackson ended the night with 21 points and seven rebounds, along with those three blocks. Jackson began the final period 1 of 7 from the three point line, but went 3 for 3 in the fourth period, including 2 clutch threes to seal the victory. The Michigan alum has now made multiple three-pointers in 10 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Grizzlies franchise history
“We had to lock in and make sure we went out in the second half, brought some more energy,” said rookie guard Ja Morant. “Like Jae [Crowder] started back for us, layups, got us going a little bit. We had to ramp it up even more, get some stops to be able to come out with a win.” Morant finished the game with 25 points (12–18 FG), seven assists, and four rebounds. This marked Morant’s 15th game with at least 20 points and five assists (tied for seventh-most in the Western Conference).
Crowder tallied 14 points, eight rebounds, and a career-high-tying five steals. Crowder tied for the most steals from any Grizzlies player this season. Morant had 5 steals on November 23 against the Lakers.
De’Anthony Melton chipped in six points, four rebounds, and an assist off the bench for Memphis. Melton now has a +76 plus-minus in 132 minutes over his last seven games, including a +24 in 21 minutes in the win over the Timberwolves.
The Other Guys
Jarrett Culver had a career night for the Timberwolves as he finished with a season-high 24 points (8–11 FG, 3–5 3P) along with five rebounds and two steals. Jeff Teague had 18 points, six assists, and two steals in 29 minutes off the bench. Robert Covington added 17 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Andrew Wiggins tallied 15 points, four rebounds, and two assists as Minnesota dropped to 14–22 on the season.
Quotes from Grizzlies veteran forward Jae Crowder
On getting a win after a long road trip:
“Me being in the league this long, I’ve realized that when you come off a West Coast road trip like that, usually, probably 75-80 percent of the time you lose that game. That’s a tough game to play, the first one back home, fresh off a road trip. We dug in deep and found a way and got a win today on our home court.”
On beating Minnesota:
“It speaks volumes to our growth. I think we’ve done a good job of growing each and every game — win, lose or draw. We’re doing a good job of watching film, trying to get better, trying to make the right plays on both ends of the court. I think all our guys are on the same page, more times than not, when we’re on the court and that’s a sign of a good team, a good team growing and trying to do the right thing.”
On how habits and attitudes have changed over the last two weeks:
“Our guys are just on the same page. We’re trying to buy into the team. Obviously, there’s a lot of different ages on our team, so we’re just trying to come together, continue to grow from each and every game, and continue to learn.”
On if there’s anything holding the Grizzlies back from being a playoff-caliber team:
“We’re going to take it one game at a time. A young team, I don’t want to get too excited. Obviously, we’re right there where we need to be to gain ground in the playoffs, but we have to take it one game at a time. We did a good job on our road trip, taking it one game at a time, bouncing back from a tough loss in Sacramento and winning the last two. We have a good stretch at home, so hopefully we’ll take it one game at a time and see where we fall.”
On being a veteran:
“I’ve been in this situation before. Obviously, our team was counted out and we’re surprising people with wins here lately. I really feel like that’s the message we should preach, is to just take it one game at a time and let the chips fall where they fall.”
On surprising teams:
“I’ve been the underdog my whole life, so I’m in familiar territory here. I’ve not been a high draft pick or nothing like that. I’m just a guy who comes to work each and every day. I think our team has taken on that identity. We’re not buying into the hype of the media. Obviously, we got counted out early as not a playoff team, but you’ve got to play basketball in this league and that’s what we’ve been doing. We’re trying to get better each and every night.”
The Grizzlies continue their home-stand against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night at FedExForum. The Grizzlies are only a half-game back of the Spurs in the Western Conference for the eighth playoff spot. Tip off is at 7 pm CST.