Morant and teammates beat the Bulls, decimated by injuries, and confirm themselves as a team with the potential to be a protagonist
Confirmations. The first is that Memphis is serious, tremendously serious as evidenced by the 12 victories in the last 13 games. The second is that Chicago, which also remains at the top of the more balanced East in recent years, is in trouble having lost the last 4 games. It is the sentences of the challenge of the Fiserv Forum, which the Grizzlies dominate 119-106. Jenkins’ team, still in Covid protocol, again proves that they are much more than its star Ja Morant, 25 points. That of Donovan, with only 10 players available, confirms to be in the worst moment of the season: it would serve the cavalry, which instead is in the infirmary.
Memphis (31 won-15 lost so far) shows in every game how serious it is. And because, despite being the second youngest team in the NBA, it has everything it takes to be a protagonist even in the playoffs: an altruistic star like Morant, an emerging star like Desmond Bane who shows his talent as an aspiring in every game. Most Improved Player (25 points against the Bulls, including those of the decisive tear in the second quarter), the best NBA defense since Thanksgiving, a very solid bench, an excellent coaching staff and a united group that plays by heart. Chicago ends up overwhelmed by all of this, because every time she tries to raise her head Memphis hits her with a different weapon. The Grizzlies are no longer a surprise: from the end of November onwards they are a very solid reality, one that continues to grind opponents. On Wednesday in Milwaukee, the first leg of a round of 4 trips, Morant and his teammates will try to confirm it again.
The beautiful Chicago (27-15) who had conquered the summit of the East has been lost in the last week. Donovan could put on the plate the absences of Zach LaVine (new exams coming to understand how serious the injury to his left knee is), Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, but he prefers to focus on the attitude of his parents, who at the top are not succeeding to confirm. Even in Memphis, the Bulls gave in on the first difficulty, with DeMar DeRozan left alone (and becoming an easy target for the careful defense Grizzlies, which forced him to take 24 shots for his 24 points) from both absences and very complicated evening of Nikola Vucevic (7 points and 10 rebounds but 2/13 shooting), crushed by the grip of the excellent Adams and Jackson. Ayo Dosunmu (15 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals) and Coby White (16 points and 5 assists) made a contribution, but against a hot team like the Grizzlies it needed more. This crippled version of the Bulls is no match for the team that has risen with merit to the top of the East: coach Donovan must find a way to navigate the storm while waiting to find the complete roster and return to prove that this is the best version of Chicago for the past 10 years.
Memphis breaks the balance of the first quarter (20-20) with a devastating 16-0 run in the second, with Bane’s triples (15 points in the period) energy for the escape that brings the hosts to rest ahead 58- 47. Chicago tries the comeback but manages to shorten it only down to -8, but Memphis pushes it back with an 18-6 run that Clarke seals with the dunk of 87-67 at 1’34 “from the third siren. The Bulls are too broken to try a comeback.
Memphis: Bane 25 (7/10 of two, 3/6 of three, 2/3 free throws), Morant 25 (8/14, 1/3, 6/7 tl), Clarke 15. Rebounds: Adams 10. Assists : Jones 8.
Chicago: DeRozan 24 (10/23, 0/1, 4/4 tl), White 16, Dosunmu 15. Rimbalzi: Vucevic 10, Dosunmu 10. Assist: Dosunmu 6.
January 18, 2022 (change January 18, 2022 | 00:15)
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