After falling short in their series opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Memphis Grizzlies responded with a gutsy effort in Game 2 of their Western Conference first round showdown at the FedExForum.
The Grizzlies took control of the contest early on as Luke Kennard made an immediate impact off the bench in the first quarter. The six-year veteran sparked a swift 8-0 run that turned a three-point Memphis lead into an 11-point advantage over a mere 29-second stretch.
From that point on, the Grizzlies did not look back. They extended their advantage to a high of 20 points in the third quarter and their lead would not go lower than six points after the opening period. They wound up taking a 103-93 win that tied this best-of-seven affair at a win apiece.
Both teams shot poorly and way below their season average, with neither side hitting more than 43% of their field goal attempts during the game.
Seven different Memphis players scored at least nine points, led by fill-in starter Xavier Tillman who had the best postseason performance of his career with 22 points on 10-of-13 field goal shooting, 13 rebounds, and three assists.
Tillman’s big night turned the tide in the Grizzlies favor as he vastly outplayed Los Angeles’ eight-time NBA All-Star Anthony Davis in their match-up. Davis managed only 13 points on four-of-14 shooting after scoring 22 in the prior contest.
Newly minted NBA Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. also played a key role for Memphis, contributing 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, and three blocks while Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks combined for 29 points.
Brooks continued to revel in his role as an antagonist and even managed to hit a key three-pointer with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 11 points. The 27-year-old forward hit only five of his 14 field goal attempts in Game 2, but his colorful character brings an extra edge that only makes this clash more entertaining.
Tyus Jones drew his 23rd starting nod of the season for Memphis with their star guard Ja Morant sidelined due to a minor hand injury that he suffered in Game 1. The 26-year-old Jones was once again excellent filling in for the two-time NBA All-Star, finishing with 10 points, six assists, eight rebounds, one steal, and only one turnover in 36 minutes of action.
This series will now head to Los Angeles for the next two games where the Grizzlies lost both of their regular season meetings. Memphis, who went only 16-25 in their road games this year, will have to win at least one game on the Lakers’ home floor if they are to advance to the next round.
Morant may be able to suit up by Game 3, though regardless of his status, they will need another complete team effort once again to keep up with Los Angeles’ star power.