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Memphis Grizzlies

Eight thoughts: Ja Morant puts star potential on full display as Memphis Grizzlies defeat San Antonio Spurs

On Saturday, the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the San Antonio Spurs by a final score of 134-121.

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Here are some quick thoughts from the game...


1. Ja Morant is special

22 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds and two steals, all while committing only two turnovers. Just a terrific all-around game for Morant.

There's only so much you can take away from a player's plus-minus from a single game, but it doesn't surprise me that the Grizzlies outscored the Spurs by 21 points in his minutes on the court, giving him the best plus-minus in the game.

Morant was in total command from start to finish. He had 11 assists through three quarters and took over down the stretch with 11 points in the fourth quarter.

2. DeMar DeRozan is balling right now

DeRozan continued his strong play as of late with yet another 20-point game.

In 37 minutes, DeRozan led the Spurs with 36 points, nine assists and nine rebounds. He shot an efficient 11-for-18 from the field and lived at the charity stripe, making almost as many free throws by himself (13) as the Grizzlies did as a team (14).

DeRozan was at his best in the third quarter, when he scored 18 of his 34 points. He had a couple of tough finishes at the rim during a Grizzlies run to help keep the Spurs in the game.

DeRozan has now scored 20 or more points in 10 straight games. It's the third-longest streak of 20-point games in his NBA career, his longest coming in the 2016-17 season when he had 20 consecutive 20-point games.

It's going to be difficult for him to make the All-Star team because of how much talent there is in the Western Conference - his and San Antonio's slow start to the season doesn't help - but DeRozan sure has played like an All-Star lately.

3. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the future

Speaking of streaks, Jackson has now hit a 3-pointer in 27 straight games, tying him with Mike Miller for the second-longest streak in franchise history.

The only player ahead of Jackson is Tyreke Evans, who made a 3-pointer in 31 straight games during the 2017-18 season.

Jackson's inclusion on that list speaks to his uniqueness because there aren't many players at his position who shoot the way he does. He entered Saturday's game having made more 3-pointers than any other centre in the league. He also ranked seventh among forwards, trailing only Evan Fournier, Luka Doncic, Davis Bertans, Zach LaVine and Duncan Robinson.

It's almost unfair to put someone like that next to Morant, who has an innate ability to get to the rim. With both of them being under the age of 21, they have the makings of one of the league's best one-two punches in the years to come.

Jackson finished with a team-high 24 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the perimeter against the Spurs.

4. You're never too old to change

Speaking of big men making 3-pointers, LaMarcus Aldridge made five triples against the Grizzlies, bringing his total to 40 made 3s on the season.

That already represents the most 3-pointers Aldridge has ever made in a single season in his NBA career.

Aldridge has always been a capable shooter. He's just always been far more comfortable shooting from midrange, where over half of his field goal attempts have come in his career. Even though that's been a high percentage shot for him - relative to the rest of the league, at least, especially at his position - the additional spacing he provides by stepping out to the 3-point line has been one of the keys to San Antonio's recent success.

It's a shame that Aldridge didn't embrace shooting 3s sooner, but late is better than never, I suppose.

5. This Grizzlies team is a lot of fun

It extends beyond Jackson and Morant.

Against the Spurs, Dillon Brooks and Jonas Valanciunas came up big with 22 points and 21 points, respectively. The Grizzlies then got a boost from their bench, with De'Anthony Melton and Brandon Clarke each making a difference.

Whereas Melton has 13 points, six assists and four rebounds, Clarke fell one rebound shy of a double-double in only 23 minutes of play.

The two of them teamed up for a couple of highlight plays, this one being the most memorable:

It obviously remains to be seen how many of those players are still on the team in the next five or so years, but there's no doubt that the future is bright in Memphis.

6. The Grizzlies keep moving on up

This was a good win for the Grizzlies, too. Memphis now has the eighth-best record in the Western Conference, bumping San Antonio out of the playoff picture.

The Grizzlies are quietly 7-3 in their last 10 games and have won four in a row.

7. The little things matter

The Grizzlies had 27 second chance points compared to only seven for the Spurs.

The Grizzlies also outscored the Spurs 22-9 in fast break points and 56-36 in the paint.

All of that made a big difference in this one.

8. What's next?

The Spurs are back in action on Monday, when they travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors.

This will be DeRozan's second time playing in Toronto since last season's blockbuster trade. The first time, he led the Spurs with 23 points and eight assists in a three-point loss.

As for the Grizzlies, they'll be back in action on Monday for a matchup with the Golden State Warriors.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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