On Tuesday night, the Memphis Grizzlies found themselves in a nationally-televised matchup against the Zion-less New Orleans Pelicans. From the opening tip, both sides put on a show with their fast-paced above the rim play.
Things were neck-and-neck down the stretch, but Memphis wasn’t able to hold on in the end. The Pelicans walked away victorious by a final score of 113-102. Here are some takeaways from the matchup.
Jaren Jackson Jr. impresses in his season debut
Easily the biggest storyline heading into this matchup was the return of Jaren Jackson Jr. The Memphis Grizzlies big man missed the start of the year after undergoing foot surgery in the offseason and finally got to take the floor for the first time.
For it being his first taste of action in some time, JJJ had an impressive debut. He played 25 minutes and tallied seven points, six rebounds, and five blocks.
Overall, the Grizzlies should be pleased with how Jackson Jr. looked against New Orleans. While he struggled shooting the ball (3-14 FG, 0-7 3P), he never stopped trying to assert himself. Also, his timing on the defensive end of the floor was a major positive. Judging from his first performance of the year, it shouldn’t take him too long to get back in the swing of things.
Ja Morant continues his early MVP campaign
Even though the Memphis Grizzlies didn’t walk away with a win, Ja Morant did everything he could to try and put the team on his shoulders. In 36 minutes of action, the All-Star point guard posted 36 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals while shooting just under 50% from the field.
So far this season, some have already come out and said they feel Morant is a frontrunner for MVP. The Memphis Grizzlies star continues to back up these comments by putting on showings like this in front of a national audience. If he is able to keep anything close to this pace, he has a shot of being in the conversation.
The Memphis Grizzlies missed Desmond Bane badly
Early Tuesday afternoon, the Memphis Grizzlies announced that Desmond Bane will be out for the next 2-3 weeks. This is a devastating blow, as he was off to a scorching hot start this season.
As the matchup with the Pelicans unfolded, it was clear how much this team missed their starting shooting guard. For starters, they shot an abysmal 25.7% from beyond the arc. Morant (2-6) and Dillon Brooks (2-9) were the only Grizzlies to record multiple made threes.
Bane was also missed on the defensive end of the floor. In the second half, CJ McCollum went off for 22 points to propel the Pelicans to a victory. Having a stronger guard out there to guard him might have been able to help stall this offensive barrage.
Until Bane returns to the lineup, Memphis will need more from its supporting cast if they want to fill the void.