Most of the Memphis Grizzlies' struggles this season have come on the road. Seven of their nine losses have come away from home, which makes even a matchup against one of the NBA's worst teams a significant challenge.
Memphis makes a quick trip to Detroit on Sunday prior to a five-game homestand.The Grizzlies have won three of their last four games, including a 117-109 triumph against Philadelphia on Friday. Memphis trailed after the first quarter but took command by outscoring the Sixers 35-24 in the second quarter.
"We didn't really have our energy in the first quarter but I thought our group really responded," Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. "Just challenged each other to pick it up. We knew going into the gameplan our defensive activity was going to be huge (Friday). I thought we definitely responded."
As usual, floor leader Ja Morant led the team in scoring with 28 points. Jenkins was just as impressed with the play of his top big men. Center Steven Adams contributed nine points, 16 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks.
"I know (Sixers star Joel) Embiid scored 35, but I think (Adams) won the game on the margins with a lot of the little things he did," Jenkins said.
Forward Jaren Jackson Jr. had 22 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Jackson is averaging 19 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in seven games after recovering from foot surgery.
"Every game he's progressively getting better," Jenkins said. "Confidence from the 3-point line, decision-making is still taking a little bit of time -- how defenses are guarding him, he's getting some different looks. His touch and finishing around the rim will come along with more reps. And then defensively, he's been doing what he's doing: He's had some big rebound nights, big blocked-shots nights. His activity is huge for us."
The Pistons ended a three-game losing streak on Thursday with a 131-125 overtime victory against Dallas.
Much-maligned 2020 lottery pick Killian Hayes delivered one of the best outings of his young career. He hit three clutch jumpers and made a key assist during the fourth quarter. In overtime, he knocked down a pair of decisive 3-pointers and finished with 22 points and eight assists.
"He made some big shots, big plays, big passes," coach Dwane Casey said. "Defensively, he was active in our blitz. Really proud of the way he played and bounced back. Can't say enough good things about him."
Hayes is getting extended playing time with last year's top pick, Cade Cunningham, sidelined by a shin injury. He's averaging 16.5 points and 7.8 assists over the past four games.
Hayes has been the target of the fans' wrath for not living up to his draft status after being the No. 7 pick, but that could be changing.
"He hears the noise," Casey said. "It's unfortunate we have the Internet for that reason. I wish he had my mentality. I don't even look at it. He probably feels he has to score. And he doesn't. He's our best playmaker. He's our best point guard. That's what he does best.
"Everybody worried about the wrong things with the kid. Everybody worried about his shooting. We need the point guard play, a quarterback."
--Field Level Media