Ja and JJ – known professionally as Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. – were exhibits one and two on Monday night in the case to be made that the Grizzlies’ talent and depth is just too much right now for Detroit’s young and rebuilding Pistons.
In its last preseason game at FedExForum, Memphis walloped Detroit 127-92. The Pistons played without No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham, who was held out because of an injury.
From midway in the second quarter to the end, the Grizzlies’ lead was 10-plus points or more. Morant led the way with 24 points; Jackson had 20 points and 8 rebounds.
“Ja and JJ were great tonight. Their plus and minuses were ridiculous,” said Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins.
“Both those guys impacted the game offensively and defensively. Continue to love to see what JJ does rebounding wise, coming over active and around the rim.”
The Grizzlies forced the Pistons into 23 turnovers that led to 27 points.
“Defensively, we have been playing great …. I think we have been holding teams to like 90 points (per game),” said Morant. “That is big time for us. It allows us to get out in transition.”
Still, there is room for improvement on the defensive side, said Morant, pointing out the need to cut down on the fouling … “make sure everybody is in the right spots on rotations and rebound.”
Giving voice to what is evident to anyone watching the Grizzlies, Jenkins said, “Ja continues to be an engine for us, getting some rebounds that ignites the offense. But I love the effort he’s giving one-on-one. He’s communicating with his teammates, he’s making sure we’re all on the same page defensively. …
“I have so much trust and confidence in his decision making.”
Jackson, who watched from the bench for most of last season because of injury, is showing in preseason the level of play he turned in prior to his extended bench time.
“I can’t say enough about those guys. They bring some much on the floor,” said Jackson. I got a chance to watch them for the majority of my year last year. I learned a lot about their grit, their toughness. They bring a lot to the table and make the game easier for me.”
The next two preseason games will determine who will make the opening-day roster. Memphis (3-1) will travel to play the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday (Oct. 13) and finish the preseason on Friday (Oct. 15) when they will play the Chicago Bulls.
The Grizzlies will host the Cleveland Cavaliers in the regular-season opener on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.
And here’s a reminder: everyone in attendance must have been vaccinated. For expediated entrance to the FedExForum, download the CLEAR app and upload your vaccination information.