The end of the Memphis Grizzlies’ franchise-setting, 11-game win streak was a double-digit thud (112-85) that quickly yielded to a collective resolve summed up by the team’s main driving force, Ja Morant.
“One game doesn’t define us at all,” said Morant, after the Dallas Mavericks thumped the Grizzlies (30-15) at FedExForum on Friday night. “We just have to turn the page and take this next day off to rest, get treatment and recover. And come in on Monday locked in and preparing for the (Chicago) Bulls.”
Up by four after the first quarter and five at halftime, the Grizzlies got blitzed by 16 points in the third and fourth quarters while only scoring 30 total points.
“We all were tired as the game went on. Our legs just pretty much got heavier; shots were short and stepped too late on the defensive end,” said Morant (19 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds). “We tried to make a push but couldn’t. Speaking for me especially, I know I was tired and wasn’t locked in, just throwing the ball all over the court. You just have to throw it (the loss) out the window. …
“It (the winning streak) just gave us confidence (and) showed us that we’re one of the best teams in the league. We know what we’ve done within that 11-game winning streak; we just have to continue to do that.”
It was the eighth game in 12 days for the Grizzlies and the second game of a back-to-back.
“We’re never looking for excuses, but we’ve got to acknowledge that we were running on fumes tonight,” said Darko Rajakovic, acting as head coach while Taylor Jenkins works his way through COVID-19 health and safety protocols. “After a very solid first half, we just didn’t have it in the second half. We hit 11 points in transition at halftime, and that’s where we stayed.”
The Mavericks (23-19) have been hot lately and led by as many as 30 points in the game. Seven Dallas players scored in double-digits, including Tim Hardaway Jr. (16) and Jalen Brunson and Marquese Chriss, each with 15. They were paced by All-Star point guard Luka Doncic (27 points, 10 assists, 12 rebounds).
“They have a great offense and it’s tough to stop them, but I think we did an amazing job tonight,” said Doncic. “They have an amazing team. It’s a complete team, everyone knows their roles and if we’re going to play them, we know it’s going to be tough to beat them.”
The Grizzlies only got 26 points from the bench, with Kyle Anderson getting 12 of those. Starting guard Desmond Bane had 16 points and 6 rebounds. After 15 points in the first half, Morant managed four more the rest of the way and had eight total turnovers.
“We know how good he (Morant) is,” said Sean Sweeney, who is Dallas’ acting head coach with Jason Kidd sidelined by health and safety protocols. “We tried to do as good of a job as we could to make him take the shots that we wanted him to take. I thought those guys did a great job. You cannot stop him, you just try to limit him, get him to do the things you hope will work best for your defense.”
The Grizzlies’ 11-game win streak made them the youngest team to achieve that mark in NBA history. Along the way, they earned talk-of-the-league status.
“First thing that I told the guys was congratulations for an amazing streak and making history for our franchise,” said Rajakovic. “Eleven straight wins, that’s a huge thing and we’re playing really good basketball. We just didn’t have it enough.
“We have two days in between before we play Chicago, and we’ve got to definitely reflect on what was behind us, the basketball we were playing the last two to three weeks, and learn a lot from that; get new confidence and start a new streak.”
GALLERY: A look back at the Grizzlies 11th straight win