January Surge Moves Grizzlies Into Western Conference's 8 Seed
Updated: Feb 5, 2020
The Grizzlies have bounced back from a 2-game losing streak last week, to rattle off 3 straight wins. Friday night Memphis defeated the Detroit Pistons on the road 125-112. Jaren Jackson scored 29 points, Dillon Brooks scored 27, and Ja Morant posted a 16 point and 12 assist double-double to snap the skid.
Returning home for a short 2-game homestand, Memphis hung on to beat the Phoenix Suns 114-109 on Sunday afternoon. Morant led 6 Grizzlies in double figures with 23 points and 8 assists. Tuesday night saw the Grizzlies knock off the Denver Nuggets 104-96. Brooks and Jonas Valuncianas led the way with big nights to get Memphis their 3rd win in a row. Valuncianas posted a 23 point, 12 rebound double-double, while Brooks poured in 24 points on the evening.
When the 2019-2020 NBA season started, no one expected much from the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis was in a transition period with a new head coach, new general manager, and had just traded franchise centerpieces, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. The Grizzlies had just missed the playoffs for the second straight season and were destined for another trip into the lottery. Then they struck gold in the lottery landing the #2 overall pick and using it to draft Murray State point guard Ja Morant. Morant was paired with fellow first-round draft picks Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke to form the core of the Grizzlies next generation.
Even with the injection of new talent, many oddsmakers had the Grizzlies missing the NBA Playoffs for the 3rd straight year, with many projecting only 25-27 wins. After a 5-13 start to the season, it looked as if they would be right. But, as January nears a conclusion, Memphis finds itself in 8th place in the Western Conference with a 2.5 game cushion over the San Antonio Spurs. With the win on Tuesday night over the Nuggets, the Grizzlies improved to 10-3 in the month of January, the first month with double-digit wins since December of 2016.
The Grizzlies young core has meshed together nicely alongside new cast of Grizzlies role players. Valuncianas is enjoying the best season of his career with new career highs in scoring and in rebounds, while 3rd-year swingman Dillon Brooks is also in the midst of a career season. The result has been a team in surprising playoff contention as the NBA nears its halfway mark.
The team will look to continue its postseason push tonight as they travel to the Big Apple to take on the New York Knicks.