Bradley and Valanciunas Lead the New Look Grizzlies as They Fall In Memphis

In what was a true representation of the potential future of the “New Look Grizz”- due to Marc Gasol playing in Toronto’s red and black and Mike Conley sitting the first night of a back-to-back because of an illness- a lot was there to like as the Grizzlies race to close out their now final 24 games in an attempt to convey. The night ended with a 108- 107 heartbreaking loss to the Spurs.

Things started off well with an Avery Bradley assist to Jaren Jackson, Jr., for a bucket by putting a body to LaMarcus Aldridge; only for Aldridge to get called for a foul the very next play leading to a Grizzlies 4-0 start as Jaren went perfect from the line.

Of course, however, the flow of the game naturally began with a Rudy Gay slam that only spoke to absence of Marc Gasol even more as Rudy was notoriously and controversially traded to Toronto himself during the trade season of the Grizzlies’ Western Conference Finals campaign season in 2013.

Avery Bradley continued to facilitate the basketball to the Grizzlies big men on cuts with the pick-n-roll and opportunities that he created himself. Bradley then gave the Grizzlies a sight to see that many Clippers’ fans never got a chance to see, starting a perfect 7-7 from the field that included three three-pointers and four midrangers, two from the elbow, forcing Gregg Popovich to call the first timeout of the game. Hitting the three from the corner to get his 16th points- and reaching his season high in total game points- after knocking the ball away from Rudy Gay, Bradley led the Grizzlies to a 33 - 20 lead to end the first.

The momentum was quickly snuffed by Patty Mills and Belinelli going 3-3 from deep to open up the second quarter before the Grizzlies were forced to call time. Joakim Noah didn’t mind as he continued to show what he has left in the tank as he did on Saturday night against the Pelicans with tough lay-ins and a dunk of his own. Then, Bruno Caboclo had three blocks in a span of roughly five minutes only giving Grizzlies fans something else to love while on his second 10 Day contract before he was picked up on a multi-year deal, as reported by Grind City Media’s Michael Wallace.

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Giving up a 15 - 0 run over a 3:23 span and a 13 point lead, the Spurs gained their first lead at 49-46 with 3:55 left before the half. The final 3:21 of the quarter, however, the Grizzlies retaliated the best they could with a 12-5 run, 7-0 before the buzzer, to go up 58-57. In that second quarter the Spurs outscored the Grizzlies 37-25.

Jaren stepped into some foul trouble as he closed out the half on the bench with 4 points and 3 fouls, and, within the first few possessions of the third quarter, Jaren scared everyone after an awkward fall following a block attempt. After about 3 minutes in the third, Aldridge got a third foul of his own, but stayed in the game getting the shots he wanted against Ivan Rabb.

By the 6:00 mark of the third quarter the Grizzlies were down 74-64 behind the Spurs’ shot making and defense- as always. With Valanciunas clocking in and Avery Bradley heating up again getting his 23rd points of the game with a sprint from halfcourt to lay it in, the Spurs called for time with 5:34 to go up 8. Immediately out of the timeout, the Grizzlies forced a 5-second call, that included a camera cut to Gregg Popovich who expressed his displeasure with a four-letter word that rhymes with yuck, a Caboclo dunk, a Grizzlies stop, Bradley bucket (25th points), and then a Caboclo corner two for the Grizzlies to go on an 11-0 run. It wasn’t long until Bradley laced yet another basket to get to 29 points with 2:13 left in the third.

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Jonas Valanciunas, in his first action since December 12, due to a dislocated thumb suffered against the Warriors and a delay in immigration paperwork on his way to Memphis after the trade, had a bright Grizzlies debut getting 19 points and 9 rebounds through three quarters as the Grizzlies went down 94-86 behind Patty Mills’ single game season-high 22 points and Bertans’ 17 through only three quarters.

Joakim Noah reappeared 2:30 into the 4th to put the Grizzlies down just 96-90 with an big two-handed slam that was so hard, the ball pinballed around inside the iron for a few seconds before finally falling through for Popovich to call time. The timeout to slow the momentum had no effect because of a transition dunk for Holiday set up by Noah’s defense and a CJ Miles three pulled up from around a screen. A questionable call against Bruno Caboclo only amplified the fans more, just before Jaren fought Rudy Gay for a rebound and hit a three on the other end to put the Grizzlies down 1, 99-98 with 6:26 left in the game.

At 31 points after pulling up just inside the arc with 4:50 left in the game, Avrey Bradley inched closer to his career high of 32 before colliding with DeMar DeRozan on his way up to the rim for a no-call. Only to get to 33 on the next position with another shot from midrange, followed by a Valanciunas bucket to get the 104-103 lead with 3:19 left in the game. Jonas did it again to muscle his way to his 23rd points to close the Spurs three point lead to one at 107-106 with 1:07 left before he fouled Aldridge out of an earned frustration with 51.1 seconds left making it a 108-106 game.

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After Derozan airballed the dagger, JB let the team run with it with 12 seconds left leading to a Jaren fouled shot attempt with 1 second on the clock while still down 108-106. He missed the first, but accidentally made the second attempt.

Even with their success tonight, the desperately needed win wasn’t meant to be as the Grizzlies fell to 23 -35 on the season, but between Avery Bradley’s career high 33 points 6 rebounds and 6 assists, Valanciunas’ 23 and 10 home debut in his first game since December 12, and the contributions from the bench, there’s a lot to be hopeful and plenty of “exciting things,” as Chris Wallace told Fox 13’s Jonathan Marshall in a Media availability following the Gasol Trade, going forward in the attempt to convey the top-8 protected pick to Boston.

REMARKABLE BOXES

MEMPHIS

  • Avery Bradley - PTS - 33 - FG- 15/21  Reb-6 Ast-6 3PT- 3/5 Min- 37:54 STL-1

  • Jonas Valanciunas - PTS - 23 -  FG- 9/11 Reb-10 Min- 21:20

  • Justin Holiday - PTS - 11 - FG- 5/11 Reb-4 3PT- 1/3 Min-35:54

  • Jaren Jackson, Jr - PTS - 9 - FG- 2/7 Reb-5 3PT- 1/2 Min-23:40 BLK-1 PF-4

  • Joakim Noah - PTS - 8 - FG- 4/6 Reb-4 Ast-4 Min- 18:08 STL-2

  • Delon Wright - PTS - 4 - FG- 2/9 Reb-8 Ast-6 3PT- 0/3 Min- 34:29 STL-1 BLK-1

    SAN ANTONIO

  • LaMarcus Aldridge - PTS - 22 - FG- 8/15 Reb-11 Min- 35:07 BLK- 4

  • Patty Mills - PTS - 22 - FG- 7/12 Ast- 3 3PT- 6/8 Min- 27:25

  • Davis Bertans - PTS - 17 - FG- 5/7 Reb-3 3PT- 4/4 Min- 27:52

  • DeMar DeRozan - PTS - 12 - FG- 5/19 Reb-6 Ast-5 Min- 41:03

  • Rudy Gay - PTS - 15 - FG- 4/11 Reb-12 Ast-8 3PT- 2/3 Min-34:25

NEXT UP

The Grizzlies will take on the 13-44 Chicago Bulls tomorrow night in the Windy City as part of a second night of a back-to-back. Hopefully, Mike Conley can recover from the illness that kept him out tonight against the Spurs. The Bulls recently played last night, February 11, and loss to the Milwaukee Bucks 112-99. After the trade deadline, they are now spear headed by Lauri Markkenan, Otto Porter, Jr., and Zach Lavine. Chicago is also now home to former Grizzlies’ wing, Wayne Selden, Jr., who was part of a package that brought Justin Holiday to Memphis.

GrizzEric Lentz