Former USC guard De’Anthony Melton was questionable for Monday night’s Grizzlies-Nuggets game after missing eight straight contests with a leg injury. But he toughed it out, and returned to play the best basketball of his career against a conference rival.
Melton finished with a career-high 25 points off of the bench in a wild double-overtime game.
Despite the effort, Memphis was unable to pull out the victory. MVP front-runner Nikola Jokic scored 47 points and hit a late three-pointer in the second overtime to give Denver the 139-137 win, as the Grizzlies fell to 29-27 on the season.
As for Melton, he started the game scorching hot. The 6-foot-2 guard had 14 points and hit four consecutive threes in the 1st quarter. He finished the 1st half with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor.
The 22-year-old would finish the game with 25 points while shooting 53% from the field and 60% from behind the three-point line. But scoring wasn’t the only way Melton contributed.
The emerging reserve for Memphis played a career-high 41 minutes, while notching eight rebounds and six assists. He also led the team in steals with four, forcing opposing players to turn the ball over on multiple occasions.
Melton has been an important bench player for the 8th-seeded Grizzlies. The three-year pro is averaging 10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game in 20.5 minutes of action per contest.
The former Trojan has also drastically improved his efficiency when shooting the ball this season. Melton’s field goal percentage is currently 48.3%, which is significantly higher than the 40.1% clip he was shooting at last season.
Not to mention he has been on fire from beyond the arc this year, knocking down 46.3% of his triples. Considering he shot 28.6% in 2019-2020, Melton’s stroke has suddenly become lethal.
Melton’s efficient shooting paired with his stifling defense has secured himself a good rotational role behind Grizzlies young star Ja Morant.
And if Melton continues to have career-games like he did against Denver Monday night, expect to see a lot more of him on the court for the Grizzlies as they try to hold on to their spot on the playoff hunt.
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