The offense was clicking tonight! However, the defense? Not so much. The 130-125 result is very much indicative of that.
The much-anticipated return of Ja Morant turned out to be worth the watch, but that wasn’t the only thing riveting about this game. The Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies put on an exhibition at the rim tonight with a number of flushes and shifty finishes that kept the game entertaining throughout.
The Rockets’ starting five combined to score 118 points on the night and looked capable of doing no wrong on that side of the floor. As for the bench, they had other plans.
This game got off to a quick start as both sides scored seemingly at will. Morant served up a poster soon after checking into the game for the first time in nine contests, but he did it on the wrong person. KJ Martin, who was on the receiving end of that aforementioned poster, proceeded to try and dunk every single Grizzly on the court through the rim in his request for revenge. The result was a career-high 31 points for young KJ as his vendetta helped fuel the squad.
Also joining the fireworks was Jalen Green, as he led the team with 32 points on 10-of-18 from the field. His quick first step allowed him to explode towards the rim and help slow down the shot-blocking prowess of DPOY-favorite, Jaren Jackson Jr.
Alperen Şengün was also having his way as he quickly scored on the opening tip-off with a dazzling spin and slam. His masterful 25-8-4 performance was instrumental in keeping the Rockets balanced and the vaunted Grizzlies’ defense off-balance.
I’d be remiss to not give kudos to Kevin Porter Jr. as he captured his second career triple-double. His 14-10-10 line mostly came within the flow of the game and it was pivotal in keeping the ball zipping.
Jabari Smith Jr. continued his recent upward tick with 16 points on 4-of-9 from deep as well. His shooting can be sporadic, but I like that he’s realizing he can just shoot over people now.
This team could not stop JJJ one bit. He exploded for 37 points and 10 rebounds as there were no answers for him. It was a foregone conclusion that he’d score anytime he got the ball anywhere remotely close to the paint. He had been on a heater in this most recent stretch of games and he only looked better tonight.
Honestly anything bad from tonight can and will be attributed to defense. They let Luke Kennard score 13 points and left him open from three on too many occasions. He’s literally out there for one reason and one reason only, GUYS.
The Daishen Nix
I will attempt to mince my words here...the moments he was on the court were not great. It didn’t help that Silas started the fourth quarter without either KPJ or Jalen on the court and let that run until 5:30 left in the game.
I hope that the DJ Augustin signing means Nix will get some much-needed mentoring and that can translate into success for him. I truly do want the best for all of these guys.
Although tonight was ultimately a loss, the production from our starters is a positive. If they can do something similar next game and sprinkle in a touch of defense, it might just result in a win. They’ll get their chance for redemption against this same Grizzlies team on Friday.