Wednesday, January 20

Injury-plagued Grizzlies try to bounce back against Hornets

The Memphis Grizzlies are discovering their depth without a couple of their starters. The Charlotte Hornets are making part of their deep roster a focal point.

The Grizzlies and Hornets meet Friday night in Charlotte, NC, and each team is focused on making sure there are widespread contributions.

The outlook for the Grizzlies took an unfortunate turn Monday in Brooklyn, where point guard A Morant suffered an ankle injury that could cost him a month of playing time. Then the team’s plight escalated when guard Grayson Allen emerged in the first half of Wednesday night’s game in Boston with a sprained left ankle that will keep him out of action.

” Unfortunately, when another player goes down, we have to come back,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. ” They are running very severe tests on us right now.”

Morant, the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year, will be out for three to five weeks. It will probably not be replaced by a single player.

Memphis didn’t respond well in the first outing since Morant’s injury, falling 126-107 at Boston. Now, with Allen’s disease, there is more to ponder.

” We are definitely going to have to adjust,” Jenkins said. “Grayson has started the first two games of the season (so) naturally we’re going to have to change. It’s all about finding the best combinations.”

Tyus Jones was in the starting lineup with Morant absent. Jonas Valencias had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis in the Boston game.

” We will look different and look at that and ultimately what gives us the best chance,” Jenkins said. ” The only thing you can always control is how hard you go out to play.”

Morant scored the winning basket last season in a Charlotte game, so it won’t be repeated with the Grizzlies visiting this time.

The Grizzlies may need to change an identity, at least in the short term. On the other hand, the Hornets like the direction they have taken.

” An identity that is now growing,” Charlotte coach Ames Borrego said. ” We have only played four games. We are growing.”

The Hornets have won two games in a row, both against opponents with significant star power. They outscored the Brooklyn Nets in their first win Sunday and then put on an even better performance three nights later against the Dallas Mavericks.

Charlotte received 60 reserve points in the Mavericks’ 118-99 win.

” Our bank is one of our strengths going forward,” Borrego said.

First-round pick LaMelo Ball led the charge with 22 points in the best game of his young NBA career.

” LaMelo is showing growth in every game,” Borrego said of the point guard.

Ball, Miles Bridges and Alen McDaniels combined for 52 points off the bench.

One of the encouraging parts for Charlotte was that forward Gordon Hayward was not trusted for key contributions to the Dallas game. Even with a late-game scoring streak, he only had 11 points, so the Hornets did it with other top contributors.

Just because they’ve won a couple of games, the Hornets don’t want to think too big of a scale. The goal is to follow the trend with constant improvement.

” The objective is to improve in each game,” Borrego said. “That is the standard for us.”

Memphis and Charlotte have had trouble handling the ball. The Hornets survived 23 turnovers in Dallas, while the Grizzlies allowed 36 points on turnovers to Boston.

” When you flip it, you put your defense in a tough spot,” Jenkins said. “I don’t think our defense is that bad, but when we turn them around and give them a calm look, it’s difficult.”

–Field level media

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