The Memphis Grizzlies Win Over The Portland Trailblazers In Unexpected Important Game Before All-Star Break

Anthony Sain

No one predicted the Memphis Grizzlies to be playing a meaningful basketball game for their final contest before the NBA All-Star break but they would defy all odds as they would defeat the Portland Trailblazers 111-104 on Wednesday. With the win, the Grizzlies expanded their lead over the Blazers to four games for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Brandon Clarke led the Grizzlies with 27 points and 6 rebounds, feasting under the basket going 12 of 14 from the field.  Clarke was on the receiving end of several alley-oop plays and was high energy on both ends of the court.  The Grizzlies as a team would also dominate the Blazers in paint points, leading 74-34 in points in the paint.  Clarke would comment on what he thought led to his big game.

Energy really," said Clarke. "It’s just what I try to bring every night and my teammates did a really good job of finding me tonight. They made my job very easy. I just kind of had to run to the rim and jump up. I’m just really grateful for Tyus (Jones), Ja (Morant), Josh (Jackson) and (De’Anthony Melton). They did a really good job tonight.”

Clarke On His Team Being Ahead Of Schedule At The All-Star Break

“It’s great really," said Clarke. "I was reading something, I think it said that we just passed our projected win total. So, I would say that we’re doing a really good job. Obviously, people thought that we wouldn’t be here now and that we wouldn’t have as many wins as we do now, so I’m really grateful that we’ve been able to build to the point that we’re at now, and I’m really looking forward to building more and getting better.”

Brandon Clarke Locker Room Comments

“Great win for us," said Memphis Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins.  "I’m really proud of the guys. We have been talking a lot recently how defense has to be a focus. You go up against the most efficient offense in the league, the last five games averaging close to 120 points a night. We were just trading baskets in that first half and we were fortunate to have a four-point lead at half time. The guys, their game discipline, their activity, what our smalls were doing on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to make them take a lot of shots to get their points. Our bigs, their discipline to be up and to kind of create some havoc at the three-point line but also be disciplined to get back and still be active at the rim. Our scramble mentality. Obviously, Anfernee Simons had a heck of a game."

"For the most part, in that second half, holding them to 19 points (in the third) and 22 in that fourth quarter was huge for us," Jenkins added. "It created some separation. Our defensive activity was at an all-time high for that game going into the break. That was great momentum. I just keep challenging our guys to find a way come post all-star break to keep getting better one day at a time. Everything is going to get more intense. This was a great step in the right direction for us against a really good team.”

© Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Ja Morant would finish the game with another phenomenal performance with 20 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds.  He brought the fight to Blazers guard Damian Lillard early and would also find his teammates often for several incredible highlight-passes, or "Goggle Plays" where he displayed his incredible court vision, in the second quarter.  Morant would speak about these plays, the celebration/gesture that follows, and his team's big win against Portland.

“I had a little guy on the sideline, he actually got me started with it because I threw like the first assist and I was just looking and I saw him almost on the court doing the goggles thing so I did it back to him," said Morant. "It was a fan. He looked like he was probably like seven or eight years old, something like that. Young guy. He did it to me, then I did it back and then after every assist, he was like Ja and was like doing it. I kept it going.”

Morant On The Team's Big Win

“It means a lot especially going into the break," said Morant. "Playing against a team we’re fighting for the eighth spot with around this time. It’s a big win for us and especially on our home court.”

Ja Morant Locker Room Comments