Winners of nine of their last 10 games, the Memphis Grizzlies did something Wednesday in the win at Portland that they had not during this streak: come from behind late to secure the victory.
Down by six late in the third quarter after having fallen behind by even more in the frame, the Grizzlies dialed up the defensive pressure and cut the deficit to two points (82-80) as the quarter ended. They owned the final quarter (33-21), finishing off the Trailblazers 113-103 at Moda Center.
Dillon Brooks scored 11 of his 22 points in the final quarter. Desmond Bane scored 13 of his 23 points in the quarter as well.
“I think all the tough battles and the tough games and tough times we’ve been in together this season and the end of last season has kind of paid off and kind of showed our resiliency,” said reserve forward Kyle Anderson, who had his best game of the season on the road with 13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, along with timely defensive stops.
“We’ve been in that situation where we’ve been down double-digits in the second half, we just decided to stay together … play some defense and make some shots … we didn’t panic. We leaned on each other and we came out with the win.”
Reflecting on the comeback, Brooks said, “We got guys that want to win; guys that make winning plays and we found a way to win. Portland had a couple (of) runs and we withstood them and made our own runs and we made enough plays to win the game.
“And that win right there is what comes from top guys to the bottom guy, one through twelve. Amazing win and we just had a lot of heart; lot of heart.”
Memphis (18-11) took an eight-point lead into halftime after outscoring Portland (11-18) by five points (24-19) in the first quarter and three (31-28) in the second. The Trailblazers sprinted back in the third, putting up 35 points to the Grizzlies’ 25.
Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said, “… we took a huge punch from the Trailblazers (in the third quarter); those guys were playing phenomenal. (Damian) Lillard got started, (Norman) Powell got started, (Jusuf) Nurkic was taking over in the paint….
“(T)hen our guys with their positive spirits throughout that third quarter understood we had a lot of time left, kept chipping away and we just tried to find our groove and our activity.”
A perennial All-Star, Lillard was held to 21 points. Powell led the Trailblazers with 25 points, with Anfernee Simons having 22 points off the bench. Portland now has lost their last seven games.
The depth of the Grizzlies showed up again, with the reserves scoring 37 points. And, Memphis was dominant in the paint (50-28).
“I’m really proud of the guys’ resiliency over the course of the game considering how we started the first and third quarters and to weather the storm and come out big in the fourth quarter was the difference for us tonight,” Jenkins said.
The Grizzlies’ winning ways are coming with their star, point guard Ja Morant, out of the lineup (a sprained knee, virus protocols).
“… (D)on’t forget about that kid that’s waiting and just cringing and waiting to play with us, Big 12 (Morant),” said Brooks. “So we going to keep holding down the fort (and) once Big 12 gets back, it’ll be very scary.”
The Grizzlies stay on the road for one more game, taking on the Sacramento Kings on Friday (December 17) at 9 p.m.
They will be back at FedExForum on Sunday (December 19) to face Portland at 5 p.m., with a back-to-back at home on Monday (December 20) against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tipoff is 7 p.m.