If – as star guard Desmond Bane said – the Memphis Grizzlies are “still a work in progress early in the season,” the labor is clearly wearing on the team’s mentality.
“Pissed. Guys are definitely frustrated,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said after the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves (12-4) ruled the court at FedExForum, sending the Grizzlies to their eighth home loss with a 119-97 thumping on Sunday. “They know that we’ve got to play better.”
Winless at home, the Grizzlies (3-13) have got to play with more urgency and togetherness and be more dialed in, said Jenkins.
“I mean, these guys are pissed. They should be; that’s what’s motivating them. We’re clearly not getting the results and the play that we need. We know what we’re capable of. We’re just not fully doing it right now.
“These guys are grasping for it; they’re fighting for it. We talked about in the locker room, heard the things that they were saying like, ‘we got to be better.’”
Minnesota, which occupies first place in the Western Conference, jumped on the Grizzlies from the start, taking a 15-3 lead and forcing Jenkins to call two timeouts in the first three minutes. The Grizzlies got back into the game, pulling within two points (26-24) with 55 seconds left in the opening quarter and were down by five heading into the second.
The Timberwolves again turned into dominators in the second quarter outscoring Memphis 29-17 to take a commanding (60-43) lead into halftime. Former Grizzlies star point guard Mike Conley had a season high 4 three-pointers in the first half, highlighting the fact that Memphis is last in the NBA in allowing points beyond the arc.
At the end of the third quarter, Minnesota led by 24 (90-66). In the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies made a run and cut the deficit to a dozen (102-90). The Timberwolves quickly responded with three back-to-back three-pointers and put out the Grizzlies’ fire.
Conley had his best three-point shooting game of the season for Minnesota. He connected on 6 three-pointers and scored 18 points, along with 10 assists. It was Conley’s first double-double of the season.
Minnesota, which made 15 three-pointers in the game, was led by Anthony Edwards, who scored 24 points and had 6 assists. Karl Anthony-Towns had 18 points and Rudy Gobert had 13 points. Minnesota outrebounded the Grizzlies 42-35.
Jaren Jackson Jr. led the Grizzlies with 18-points. Santi Aldama had 14 points and 7 rebounds. Derrick Rose had 14 points off the bench and Bismack Biyombo had 10 points. Ziaire Williams had 11 points and David Roddy had 11 points off the bench. Jaylen Nowell, who is on a 10-day contract, played 12 minutes and scored 4 points.
For the Grizzlies, the countdown to the return of two-time All-Star Ja Morant from his NBA suspension is down to 9 games. His first home game is projected to be on Dec. 21.
Meanwhile, Bane, who scored 13 points, along with 4 assists and two rebounds, was asked if the Grizzlies, whom many thought could weather the loss of Morant and still be in the hunt for the conference title, had lost their edge.
“I wouldn’t say that we’ve lost the edge. I think that we just got some guys that are in new positions and new roles, and we’re kind of trying to find our new identity, our new mantra, he said.
“Before, guys that have been in a program for a while and we’ve all played together for a while, it was kind of natural, but we’re still a work in progress early in the season.”
The Grizzlies will continue the pursuit of their first win this season at FedExForum when they host the Utah Jazz (5-11) on Wednesday (Nov. 29) at 7 p.m.
Head coach Taylor Jenkins on the play of Nowell Jenkins, who got his first action via a 10-day contract:
“Good burst. Obviously, a guy that can come in and score the ball … hasn’t really had any practice time with us. Told him go out there and just play within the offense, play simple. He was actually dialed in on the game plan defensively, did a really good job there.
“Came in, thought he moved the ball well. … His ball movement was really good, trying to get connected with his teammates after just a couple of days. I was really impressed, and we’ll see moving forward….”
Jenkins on getting the opportunity:
“Oh, it’s everything. It’s a blessing. You know, just been waiting and trying to learn how these guys play, (and the) playbook, and for Coach to throw me out there today. I just wanted to make a positive impact without scoring. I just wanted to come in and provide a spark.”