The Memphis Grizzlies got a little bit of revenge Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 110-97 win on the road. The Thunder had just defeated the Grizzlies over a week ago after a huge second-half collapse by Memphis. Jonas Valanciunas would lead the team with 21 points while Jaren Jackson Jr. would add 20 points.
"This was a win we needed," said Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins. "Obviously, what happened here a week ago our guys built another double-digit lead, got to 20. Credit the Thunder. They just kept fighting and they keep playing with that aggressive style and physical on defense. But we just found a way. I am proud of our guys; how we competed defensively. Kept them off the free-throw line. Outrebounded them by double digits, 16 or so. That collective effort right there, to be disciplined, to be focused for 48 minutes, to give ourselves a chance to hold a team under 100, it's been a while. I'm proud of them."
Memphis' bench unit contributed well against the Thunder scoring 46 points collectively. Tyus Jones led all Grizz reserves with 15 points and 2 assists. Jones, who is not known as a three-point shooter, also connected on 3 out of 4 attempts from three-point range. Coach Jenkins would speak on his team's bench contributions as well.
"Offensively, to get 26 assists again, our starters were great but our bench, we talked about it before the game when they can come in; Tyus (Jones), Brandon (Clarke), Kyle Anderson. I think (Anderson) only scored two points but he had seven assists and multiple rebounds," said Jenkins. "De'Anthony (Melton) had multiple rebounds. Grayson (Allen) and Solo (Solomon Hill), all those guys coming in to contribute. When you get that production from 11 guys in different areas of the game, I thought we set a tone defensively. We were physical. We forced them into some tough shots, and then we were able to clean up on some rebounds."
Jonas Valanciunas was huge in the fourth quarter scoring 11 of his 21 points and was the team's steadying force down the stretch. He would share his thoughts on the revenge game and what he felt the team did differently this time around
“It was great," Valanciunas said. "There was effort, we competed, and we played hard on both ends. That’s the goal, that’s what we want to do every night.”
“Came out with the defense," Valanciunas said about the difference between the two games. "We are really focused on defense. We held them under 100 points, which is not happening a lot these days. We really focused on defense.”
Jaren Jackson Jr. had another big game as well as he continues to keep his game on an upswing for the month of December. He is scoring 20.8 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three this month. Jackson would also share his thoughts on the team's performance.
Jackson on what it meant to come back and win against the Thunder after a tough loss a week earlier.
“A whole lot because obviously last time it was disappointing because we had a big lead and lost it, and then we weren’t able to respond at the end," Jackson said. "This time we made sure we responded the right way. We got a big lead again and made sure we took care of the ball and made the right plays.”
Jackson on the team's balanced effort and bench production
“I mean, that is expected," said Jackson. "Our bench brings a lot to the team. They are a huge asset because they can do so many things from top to bottom like Kyle’s vision, Tyus’ vision, and my boy BC (Brandon Clarke) and his athleticism. So down the line everybody brings something.”
Jackson on playing with confidence.
“When no one is around, you have to put in that work, so you have the confidence to do it in a game," said Jackson. "My teammates have confidence in me so that’s all that really matters.”
The Grizzlies' next matchup is Saturday on the road against the Denver Nuggets.