Missing a star point guard doesn’t work out for too many teams, since it requires depth and versatile players. The Memphis Grizzlies have succeeded in stretches when having to play without Ja Morant, but on Friday night, star Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young was downgraded to out almost an hour before tipoff.
Gambling sites boosted the Grizzlies’ chances to win the game, but that energy didn’t carry over to State Farm Arena. The Hawks, without Young, came out shooting hot and never slowed down in a 120-105 victory over the Grizzlies.
The loss snapped Memphis’ four-game win streak.
Atlanta (35-35) shot better than 50% from the field and 3-point range in the first half while holding the Grizzlies (48-23) to 17-for-40 shooting (41%). The Hawks finished shooting 49% overall.
The Grizzlies had a season-low 18 assists and 16 turnovers.
Here are some observations from the game:
Defensive inconsistencies appear again
Defense has been up and down for the Grizzlies since the All-Star break. Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins has noticed and challenged his team, but the results have been mixed. The Grizzlies put on a defensive masterpiece in a 135-102 win against the Indiana Pacers. A game later, they struggled to stop the Hawks.
Atlanta has been one of the NBA’s elite offenses this season, but most of that work was with Young.
The offense struggled in the first half, too. but the pace picked up in the third quarter. Morant got downhill in transition and the Grizzlies got within 10 in the third quarter. After the Hawks pushed the lead north of 15 points, the Grizzlies got within 11 points one more time, making it a 103-92 game with 5:17 left in the fourth quarter. The Hawks responded with an 8-0 that put the game away for good.
Each time the Grizzlies made a run, they weren’t able to get stops long enough to make a comeback.
Grizzlies searching for the right lineup combinations
The return of Dillon Brooks wasn’t as simple as inserting him into the starting lineup and moving Ziaire Williams to the bench. Mixing and matching lineups has been a strength for- Jenkins. When Brooks was out, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane starting the second quarter with the bench. In Friday night’s game, Bane was replaced with Brooks. The Grizzlies entered the second quarter trailing 34-29. By the time a lineup change was made, the Hawks led 50-36. The game did not get back within single digits.
Former Grizzly shines
While Young didn’t play, he was replaced by a familiar face. Former Grizzlies player Delon Wright got the start and came out playing like he was the two-time All-Star. Wright had 11 points, three assists, three steals and three 3-pointers in the first quarter. His defensive pressure and shooting paced the Hawks early. He finished with 18 points, six assists and five steals. The points and assists were his second-most this season, while the steals were a season-high.
Contact Damichael Cole at [email protected] and on Twitter @damichaelc
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism