On Monday night, the Memphis Grizzlies will play the San Antonio Spurs, hoping to extend their winning streak to eight games.
On Sunday night, the Grizzlies defeated the Jazz, 123-118, despite missing three starters who were among their team’s most important players: leading scorer Ja Morant, top rebounder Steven Adams, and effective reserve Brandon Clarke.
Soreness in his right thigh forced Morant to sit out of the game despite his 27.2 ppg and 8.0 apg averages. Adams’s absence was caused by illness. Adams averaged 8.0 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. For the fourth game in a row, Clarke’s (10.1 ppg, 5.5 RPG) hip ailment kept him out of action.
In Morant’s place, Tyus Jones started the game and finished with 21 points and six assists. Desmond Bane logged a team-high 31 minutes of playtime, scoring 24 points and dishing out nine assists. In Adams’ absence, Xavier Tillman started at point guard and put up season highs of nine points, nine boards, and three assists in a game that he played in for the longest stretch of his young career (33 minutes).
Bane’s right big toe sprain forced him to miss 17 games, but he’s been diligently getting back into game shape. A third-year player, he claimed after the victory over the Jazz that he is about back to where he was before his injury.
I’m getting there, slowly but surely,” Bane stated after making his 400th 3-pointer of his career. In other words, I haven’t arrived yet. But I feel like the groove is starting to form.
On Saturday, Boston beat San Antonio 121-116 in San Antonio courtesy of a game-high 34 points from Jayson Tatum, who also nailed the go-ahead jumper with 33.7 seconds left to give the Celtics the lead for good.
The Spurs kept pace with Boston with the help of eight players in double figures and a 49 percent shooting clip despite missing starters Keldon Johnson (hamstring), Devin Vassell (knee), and Jakob Poeltl (Achilles).
Each Josh Richardson, Tre Jones, and Zach Collins finished with 18 points. Collins not only scored 10 points but added 12 rebounds, giving him his first double-double of the year.
San Antonio had five players score in double figures: Romeo Langford (14 points), Doug McDermott (13), Jeremy Sochan (11), Stanley Johnson (10), and Malaki Branham (10).
Despite missing three of their top players, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was satisfied with his young team’s performance.
Excellent performance; Popovich is really proud of his team. At the very end of the game, Jayson came through for us. I am really pleased with how hard our boys are working and how well they are taking care of the ball and grabbing boards. They played a fantastic game, and it was amazing to have them there. All 11 players made significant contributions, and we will eventually regain their health.
On Monday, they play Memphis, and Johnson and Poeltl may return for that game. Vassell is scheduled to undergo surgery on his left knee on Wednesday and won’t be back in action until after the All-Star break.
The Spurs’ recent skid includes defeats in four of their last five games and five consecutive away from home. The Grizzlies have a home record of 16 wins and 3 losses.