On throwback jersey night, it was the return of the NBA big men.
Jonas Valanciunas seems to enjoy it when he goes to battle against a true opposing big man. On Monday night he went up against Detroit's Andre Drummond. Valanciunas led the Grizzlies with a team-high 26 points (13-of-19), 17 rebounds, four blocks, and two assists. His counterpart Drummond was equally impressive with 25 points, 18 rebounds, and four assists.
Casey continued with praise of Valanciunas, “Every year he got better and better at understanding that those mundane things are just as important as hollow points you might put up, the verticality, the screening, the rolling, the catching and making good decisions. It’s not flashy, your name doesn’t get in the paper, but those teams win when those guys accept those roles and do that job. It’s not fun, but it’s a very valuable position to develop and to be in.”
The Grizzlies defeated the Pistons 96–82, to give rookie coach Taylor Jenkins his 25th win of the season. Memphis is now 25–25 on the season while the Pistons fell to 18–34.
On Monday afternoon, Jenkins was named Western Conference Coach of the Month by the NBA for January. This is his first career coach of the month honor. The first-year coach led his team to an 11–4 record in January which tied for the highest winning percentage (.733) in the Western Conference. The last time a Grizzlies coach was named coach of the month was Dave Joerger in November 2014. At age 35, Jenkins is the youngest person to earn Coach of the Month honors since Lawrence Frank in April 2005.
Before the game, Jenkins spoke about the honor: “It is an honor for sure and very humbling. It is something that I am excited about because I am excited for the entire organization — from our players to the coaching staff, our entire staff, the performance staff, the front office, everyone that goes into what we did in the month of January.”
He went on to say, “It is a great reflection of all of the hard work and everyone growing every single day. Obviously, it is translating to some success on the court. Just very excited for everyone involved. It was great to get the congratulations from everyone but we are now focused on a great month of February.”
Rookie guard Ja Morant praised Jenkins after the win: “He’s almost the same as me, giving credit to a lot of us, but he deserves it. He has us ready each and every game and pushes us in practice. [Tonight] was just one of those games where he knew what type of game it was, and he knew exactly how to make us come out with a win.”
By the Numbers
After scoring 53 points in the first half, the Pistons were held to just 29 points in the second half. The Pistons only scored 10 points in the third period, while going 3-of-25 from the field. Both numbers are season-lows from Grizzlies opponents this season.
The Grizzlies won the points in the paint battle 68–50 (+18).
Memphis had a season-high 12 blocks; Detroit had 5 (+7)
The Grizzlies have won 12 of their last 14 games in Memphis after starting the season 3–11 at home.
Valanciunus also secured his 24th double-double of the season, and it’s the third game this season in which he finished with at least 25 points and 15 rebounds. The big man finished with a +28.
Dillon Brooks tallied 15 points, four rebounds, and five assists while shooting 7-of-15 from the field. Jaren Jackson Jr. had a bad shooting night (3-of-10) but he ended with 14 points by going 8-of-9 from the charity stripe along with five rebounds, three blocked shots, and two assists.
Drummond tallied his 41st double-double of the season, which ties Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo for the most double-doubles of the season. Lang Galloway and Christian Wood finished with 17 points apiece off the bench.
Grizzlies will start a three-game road trip with a stop in Dallas on Wednesday night. The Mavericks will be without Luka Doncic, who is out due to an ankle injury. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center.