Memphis Grizzlies: Steven Adams had the perfect response to getting benched in Game 2 vs Wolves

Steven Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Steven Adams, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

After a bumpy first quarter that saw 20 combined personal fouls called in Game 2, the Memphis Grizzlies cruised to a 124-96 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves to tie the playoff series at 1-1.

One of the headlines that has gotten buried in the joy of victory has been the fact that Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins made the tough decision to bench starting center Steven Adams after he picked up two person fouls in the first three minutes of Game 2.

Adams had a terrible Game 1, displaying virtually no lateral quickness and an inability to keep Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns in check. He finished Game 1 with 4 personal fouls, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 24 minutes of action.

Game 2 wasn’t much better for the Big Kiwi. Actually, it was worse.

Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins benched Steven Adams for Game 2

Adams picked up right where he left off in Game 1, reaching-in and fouling Minnesota as the offensive players would blow by him.

Adams committed his first foul in the first 14 seconds of the game on Timberwolves’ guard D’Angelo Russell.

He was called for a flagrant foul type 1 at the 9:10 mark in the first quarter (giving him his second personal of the game) after slapping Minnesota’s Jarred Vanderbilt across the face in a scrum for a rebound.

Jenkins pulled him out of the game and never subbed him back in, not even to start the third-quarter.

Apparently the Memphis Grizzlies coach and Adams had a quick chat on the sidelines (or in the locker room), which was revealed during Jenkins’ post-game media availability.

Jessica Benson, of Grind City Media, reported that Adams took the benching like a total pro. Jenkins relayed the conversation to the media.

Adams, as told by Jenkins, said “We just want to win. Anything to win the game. Whatever you need to do, Coach. I’ll be there.”

There’s total buy-in from this team from top to bottom. Adams was benched after playing just three minutes in the game and he could be seen cheering on the sidelines as if nothing ever happened.

Adams knows he’s got to be better. If the Grizzlies make it to the second round to face Golden State, Adams will likely have the opportunity to slide back into the starting lineup to face Kevon Looney, who is much more a traditional big man in the vein of Steven Adams—they match-up well.

But Adams just cannot keep Towns in front of him and reaches in to compensate for being a couple of steps too slow.

Don’t be surprised if Adams does not start in Game 3, despite having started 75 of his 76 games during the regular season. Expect Adams to continue being the consummate professional that he is throughout this series, too.

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