Zaire Williams (left) and Kyle Anderson of the Grizzlies battle Damian Lee of Golden State for this loose ball in game 2. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)
Terry Davis

A head coach’s view of “physicality” can get immersed in the “dirty play” assertions of water-cooler observers and professional analysts.

Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins refuses to have his message drowned out as the Grizzlies take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of their semi-final battle in San Francisco on Saturday night.

Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins and this referee are not seeing eye-to-eye at this moment. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku/The New Tri-State Defender)

Memphis will have to go another game without star defender Dillon Brooks. The NBA has suspended Brooks as additional punishment for a flagrant 2 foul that has relegated Golden State’s Gary Payton II to the injury list with a broken elbow. Payton is expected to miss the rest of this series and at least a month.

“It is disappointing.  We are going to honor the league’s decision. It is a tough play,” Jenkins said after Brooks’ Game 3 suspension was announced. “We wish Gary Payton II a speedy and healthy recovery. You don’t want to see anyone get hurt. It is unfortunately what happened.

“There is a narrative out that was said between Game 1 and Game 2 that we wanted to play more physical.  Dirty has been thrown out there. I look at my locker room and look at our culture and what we exude. We are the farthest thing from dirty. We are competitive. I want that to be squashed.

Acknowledging that words are only “going to mean so much right here,” Jenkins said, “We feel what Payton is going through, but it is not going to change the course of action. Our guys are going to rally and go out there and focus on game 3.”


Dillon Brooks of the Grizzlies was ejected early after committing this flagrant two foul on Gary Payton II of the Warriors. He later was suspended for game 3. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)
Gary Payton II after Dillon Brooks knocked him to the floor on a breakaway early in Game 2. Draymond Green checks on his teammate. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku/The New Tri-State Defender(

With Ja Morant further ascending the stardom ladder with 47 points, Memphis evened the series at 1-1 with the 106-101 win at FedExForum on Tuesday night.

Quick on quick: the in-game matchup between Memphis’ Ja Morant (left) and Golden State’s Jordan Poole has the makings of a high-level confrontation that could pit the two against each other for years to come. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku/The New Tri-
State Defender)

Referencing that the words “physical and dirty” had been thrown relative to the Grizzlies, Jenkins said, “I talked to my guys and said can we stop giving up 23 second-chance points. It has nothing to do with the play that happened in game 2.

“Can we just go and put a body on body and stop watching the ball. That is what our physicality needs to be. Hopefully, we can learn from that. If we can clean that up, hopefully we can play better in game 3.”

While Brooks, who was ejected in the first few minutes of game 2, will not be available, Memphis will welcome the availability of center Steven Adams, who has been ineligible to play because of COVID-19 protocols. Adams, who was regulated to the bench by matchup concerns in the opening-round series against Minnesota, is expected to be back in the starting lineup on Saturday. He practiced with the team on Wednesday.

Memphis was outrebounded by the smaller Warriors in the first two games of the series.

The extended break between Games 2 and 3 (three full days) may help the Grizzlies’ Desmond Bane, who has been affected by lower-back issues. Bane hurt his back in the last game in the Minnesota series and aggravated it in the first game of the series against the Warriors.

Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said of Brook’s suspension, “Same mentality as always. Someone has to step up and be ready. We are with him all the way. Guys have been in and out of the rotation all season. We just have to be ready and he will be ready by Game 4.”

Regarding the game 3 play that has reverberated throughout the league, Jackson said, “It was a tough play.  A lot was going on. He (Brooks) tried to make a play. He was trying to make a winning play.  Every point matters in the playoffs. He was trying to take away a basket. He just didn’t get enough lift. It is unfortunate how it all unfolded.”

Memphis reserve De’Anthony Melton said, “It is going to be even more of a grind. It is going to take mental focus and physical focus. We have played without guys before. We have played great teams without guys before. We have to play hard, play our game and have fun.”

Is this fun?

“It is tons of fun,” said Jenkins. “This is the best player development. This is the best coaching development. This time of the year is the best basketball. If you are not having fun, I don’t know why you are in this.  Whether you are up or down, go out there and have some fun. …

“If we continue to play with that same … confidence we had on the road, and go out there and play hard, we will have a great shot.”

Sent to the floor, Stephen Curry is helped to his feet. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku/The New Tri-State Defender)