Justise Winslow was thrilled to be back on the court Saturday night, making his debut for the Grizzlies and playing for the first time since January 8, 2020. Although he started slowly, missing his first nine shots from the field, Winslow got more comfortable as the game went on and finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time,” Winslow said (video link from the Memphis Commercial Appeal). “I was excited, a lot of nerves, to be honest, but just being out there competing was a lot of fun. In the first half, I was just trying to get that first bucket, you know, a little excited. But once I settled down, settled into my game, I felt pretty comfortable out there. But a lot of praise to this organization, helped me get back out there, and my teammates. They kept me very confident while I was out there playing.”
Winslow was sidelined with a hip injury when Memphis acquired him at last year’s trade deadline. The pandemic prevented his projected return in March, and he suffered a left hip displacement during the summer that he’s just recovering from.
Looking ahead, Winslow could be a valuable contributor to the Grizzlies’ reserve unit as a shot creator, slasher and perimeter defender, notes Evan Barnes of The Commercial Appeal.
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- With the Spurs in the middle of an unexpected break due to COVID-19, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News talks to other coaches who have guided their teams through the same experience. San Antonio hasn’t played in a week after four players tested positive for the virus. The team is set to resume its season Wednesday at Oklahoma City if enough players are available. “It’s as mentally challenging as anything I’ve ever had to deal with,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “… There’s nothing I can take from a past experience or even another coach’s past experience to be able to navigate through it. It’s something nobody has had to do.”
- Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t believe youth should be an excuse for a fourth-quarter meltdown Friday against Phoenix, according to Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. New Orleans was outscored 41-12 as a big lead slipped away. “A lot of teams in this league have quarters like that,” Van Gundy said. “I’ll never throw the young card out there. We’re a basketball team with really talented people, and we didn’t get the job done in the fourth quarter.”
- Getting back on the court after a week-long break will be a relief for Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. After testing positive for COVID-19 and spending two weeks in a Denver hotel last month, Finney was among the many who lost power this week amid freezing conditions in Texas.