The Memphis Grizzlies showed the rest of the NBA that they will continue to be a reckoning force for the rest of the season, delivering their fifth consecutive win against Western Conference Champions Golden State Warriors, 122-102 on Sunday evening.
The game played out in front of 16,408 fans at the FedEx Forum in downtown Memphis.
Head Coach Taylor Jenkins predicted a positive outcome even before the game started, as he’s noticed that his new Grizz team is building a vigorous and intense momentum.
“The fact that we are getting consistent play, the chemistry has been there. That has helped us to get to this consistent stretch that we are at.”
Consistency was key as Jonas Valanciunas had an incredible game scoring 31 points, with a total of 19 rebounds. Valanciunas attributed his big night to his unselfish team.
“Tonight was my night, maybe the next night, it’s going to be someone else’s night,” he said. “We play that way, so it’s to our advantage.”
Ja Morant, who had 11 points and dished out 10 of the Grizzlies’ 33 assists, echoed Valanciunas’ sentiment.
“We’ve just got an unselfish team. We’ll give up a good shot for a great shot,” said Morant.
The game started off tight with the Grizzles finishing the first quarter 27-26. The Warriors, virutally unrecognizable because of injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, relied on D’Angelo Russel, who scored 18 first-half points and finished the night with a game high 34.
After taking a 60-59 lead into halftime, Jenkins ignited his team to take the lead in the third quarter with strict defense and more thoughtful plays.
“We just played smarter. We weren’t really playing that smart early, and then we just played smart and took better shots, moved the ball and everybody was eating,” Jenkins said.
By the end of the third, Valanciunas and the Grizzlies had a 97-76 lead, and kept Golden State at bay the rest of the way. De’Anthony Melton would end the night perfectly as he lobbed a pass to Morant for a crowd pleasing alley-oop dunk that sent the home crowd cheering.
Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 21 points for the night and echoed that his team knows how to finish.
“We just put an emphasis on it to make sure we correct all the mistakes from the first half,” he said after the game.
Next for the Grizzlies: James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets bring their run-and-fun game to FedEx Forum on Tuesday. Tip-off is at 7 PM.