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Grizzlies ‘d’ the Milwaukee Bucks into submission

Terry Davis

The Grizzlies are on top in the NBA Western Conference and they have risen with and/or doing “d” things: defense, disciplined, and dialed-in.

The visiting Milwaukee Bucks got a wire-to-wire demonstration of Memphis’ “d” things as the Grizzlies dominated the darlings of Milwaukee’s Deer District with a 142-101 win at FedExForum on Thursday night.


Defense was the game’s star, as shown by the night of the Bucks’ All-Star big man, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 19 points and 6 rebounds. The two-time MVP came in averaging 30-plus points and 11-plus rebounds. He likely would have hit those marks with fourth-quarter playing time but the Grizzlies effectively eliminated that option.

Memphis’ Steven Adams makes himself an impediment that Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo can’t score on here, forcing him to pass the ball. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins summed up why the Grizzlies’ defense was so good overall.

“Our pick up and showing crowds on Giannis. I think we did a really good job of taking him out of the paint,” Jenkins said.

“We held them to 38 points in the paint. We were dialed in the first quarter. We did a good job of rebounding and getting second-chance points.”

Memphis (19-9) has improved its defense along the way to its 1-game lead in the Western Conference.

Defensively, we were more playing as a unit,” said Memphis’ All-Star point guard Ja Morant,” who racked a triple-double (25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) on offense.

“We were showing a lot of bodies and forcing them into tough shots.”

Dillon Brooks, known as Memphis’ defensive stopper, proved to be the undoing of the Buck’s Kris Middleton, who had three points from 12 shots.

“Helping my teammates with the shifts and being physical,” Brooks said of his defensive mindset. “I wanted to put physicality on him (Middleton) because I know he can change the game. My willingness to be disciplined.”

A Brooks-Middleton entanglement produced an early chippy moment. After committing a turnover, Middleton held Brooks’ leg, taking him to the floor. That earned him a flagrant one technical foul, signaling a night of personal futility and an overall fruitless game for the Bucks.

Dillon Brooks paired his clamp-down defense with 18 points in only 21 minutes. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

After the pummeling, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said the Grizzlies didn’t do “anything you shouldn’t expect from the Grizzlies when you come in here. They’re very athletic; they’re a very active team.

“They played tight, I guess to their strengths. We were not good tonight. I think it’s credit to Memphis. They were very good, and we weren’t.”

The Bucks (20-8) are number two in the Eastern Conference.

In mid-air, Ja Morant changes and intended dunk to a layup, drawing a foul by Thannasis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

For the Grizzlies, it was the seventh straight win and their longest streak of the season.

Memphis led by as many as 46 points in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was mop-up time for both teams as the starters sat out.

More of Ja Morant on a triple-double night. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

The victory moved Jenkins into a tie for second place with Dave Joerger (behind only Lionel Hollins) in total wins for a Grizzlies coach.

“I am blessed to coach this great group of men and amazing staff we have,” said Jenkins. “There have been so many coaches in the history of this franchise that I look up to. We are trying to take this organization up one level at a time.”


After sweeping their five-game homestand, the Grizzlies begin a four-game road trip in Oklahoma City against the Thunder on Saturday (Dec. 17).

That set of games includes a Christmas Day matchup against the Golden State Warriors, who will be without All-Star Stephen Curry because of a shoulder injury.


Brandon Clarke slams two of his 12 points (six rebounds). (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Ja Morant’s triple-double was his second on the five-game homestead and his franchise-record seventh. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Tyus Jones had 16 points and no turnovers off the Grizzlies’ bench, which scored 80 points. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

David Roddy had a career-high 15 points. Said Roddy: “It felt good to get into the rhythm. I got a few easy ones. Thanks to my teammates for sharing the ball.” (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)


Ja Morant exits the game for good in the third quarter after securing his triple-double. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Tyus Jones connected on all three of his shots from deep. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)




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