Grizzlies lose to OKC — but Desmond Bane is back from injury and looks great

Desmond Bane warms up after two months out with injury. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/Tri-State Defender)

Desmond Bane made his return to the Memphis Grizzlies after missing two months due to an ankle injury. Bane made his first shot, a three-pointer. The Thunder defeated the Grizzlies 118-112 to sweep the three-game season series over Memphis. The Grizzlies fall to 23-45.

Bane may have been out for a while, but he didn’t lose his shooting touch. He scored 11 points in the first half and connected on 3 of 4 from three-point range. Bane played 14 minutes in the first half. Jaren Jackson Jr. returned from his two-game absence and made his presence felt, scoring 9 points in 15 minutes of action.

“The offense flowed better with Bane in the lineup,” [Coach Taylor Jenkins] said. “We had 34 assists. The ball was humming. We did a good job early in the game in transition. Later in the game, it fell off. Everyone in our starting lineup had four-plus assists. It was a big step in the right direction.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Chet Holmgren had 7 points and 4 rebounds in the first half. The Thunder entered the game only half a game out of first place in the Western Conference. They took a 56-54 lead into halftime.

Even a Block Panther can get dunked on. It’s rare, but it happens. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/Tri-State Defender)

The Thunder ran out to a 9-point lead (63-54) with 10:11 left in the quarter. Jaren Jackson Jr. hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 70-70 with 5:47 [remaining]. Too many empty trips and not enough stops allowed the Thunder to open a 91-78 advantage heading into the final quarter.

An 8-0 run to start the quarter got the Grizzlies back into the game (91-86) with 10:38 left. Memphis cut it to a two-point game (93-91) with 9:32 left. The Thunder’s size and depth were just too much for the Grizzlies to overcome.

Even with injuries, you can still count of Memphis for maximum effort, like this swarming of OKC’s Chet Holmgren. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/Tri-Stae Defender)

The Thunder (47-20) were led by a balanced offensive attack. Six players finished with double-digit scoring. Holmgren had 22 points and 11 rebounds. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 20 points and 7 rebounds, and Jalen Williams had 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Bane finished with 22 points and 7 assists in 32 minutes of action. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 19 points, had 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. GG Jackson had 19 points, and Jake LaRavia had 14 points off the bench. Santi Aldama had 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.

“GG Jackson got a career-high 30 points in his last meeting and 19 tonight. On why he plays so well offensively against them,” [a reporter asked]. “They play heavy in their shifts. So respacing is huge for us. Anytime someone drives, just be visible. That opens up the three for me,” [Jackson replied].

It will be a while before the Memphis Grizzlies return to FedExForum. They have a four-game Western road trip upcoming. The Grizzlies will face the Sacramento Kings on Monday, March 18, and the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, March 20. They will return home to face the Los Angeles Lakers on March 27.