Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Z. Williams, Zion, Spurs

The Grizzlies have become a target since Ja Morant proclaimed they don’t fear any other Western Conference contender, but Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes that it’s going to take a lot more than Sunday’s loss to the Warriors to shake their confidence.

The Christmas Day showdown was filled with the chippiness that has defined the rivalry between the two teams since last season’s playoffs. Golden State had six technical fouls, Draymond Green yelled toward Morant after blocking one of his shots, Klay Thompson taunted Dillon Brooks, and Jordan Poole was ejected in the fourth quarter.

Both teams have a tendency to be vocal, and Desmond Bane explained that it’s part of the Grizzlies’ personality.

“That’s in us,” he said. “That’s not something that comes and goes. It’s what we believe, it’s how we we feel. There ain’t nothing that’s going to change this swag. We can go on a six-game losing streak, and we’re still going to carry the same swag and same chip on our shoulder at all times.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies forward Ziaire Williams continues to struggle after missing the first 24 games of the season with right patellar tendinitis, Cole adds in the same story. Williams made just one of five shots from the field Sunday, but he believes he’s headed in the right direction. “I’m confident right now, to be honest with you,” Williams said. “I’m just not making shots. If I make two more shots per game, I’m playing well and it’s a whole different perspective. I’m sticking with it.”
  • The Pelicans are listing Zion Williamson as doubtful for Monday’s game against the Pacers, citing “return to competition reconditioning,” according to Jim Eichenhofer of It would be the third straight missed game for Williamson, who is part of a long injury list for New Orleans.
  • Like many young teams, the Spurs are still learning how to be competitive for all 48 minutes of a game, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The team suffered through lopsided stretches in a pair of losses last week at New Orleans and Orlando. “We are still a young group, but we have smart players, young guys who want to listen and get better,” Josh Richardson said. “Hopefully, one of these days it really starts kicking in. I think it just takes us stringing together a couple of games where we do play that full 48 to see what it looks like, to see how hard you have to play the whole game. Then, hopefully, that becomes the standard.”
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