Dillon Brooks

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Anderson, Brooks, Jackson

Taking into account both regular season games and postseason contests, the Grizzlies now have a 21-6 record without Ja Morant this season, and that mark may actually understate how well they’ve played without their All-Star point guard, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Sixteen of those 21 wins have been by double-digits, including a 73-point rout of Oklahoma City in December.

The Grizzlies’ depth is one reason why they’ve been so effective when Morant has been unavailable, and the point guard’s subpar defensive numbers are another, Hollinger observes. The Grizzlies gave up more points per possession with Morant on the court than with any other single player on the court this season.

However, digging further into the data, Hollinger unearths several more interesting details, including Dillon Brooks‘ positive impact on the Grizzlies (especially defensively) and how infrequently he and Morant played together this season. The Grizzlies’ performance with and without Morant has also been skewed by their opponents’ shooting luck, which is one reason why Hollinger, unsurprisingly, concludes the team isn’t actually better off without the 22-year-old.

Interestingly, Hollinger’s data shows that the Grizzlies have actually played well with no true point guard on the court, with Kyle Anderson serving as the primary ball-handler. Hollinger suggests that could be a factor in how the team approaches Anderson’s and Tyus Jones‘ free agencies this summer.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • As expected, Morant has been officially ruled out of Friday’s Game 6 vs. Golden State due to the bone bruise in his right knee, per the Grizzlies (Twitter link). Santi Aldama (right knee soreness) and Killian Tillie (lower back procedure recovery) also remain sidelined.
  • After a 5-of-19 shooting performance with four turnovers in Game 4, Dillon Brooks bounced back in Game 5. Although he had just 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting, Brooks didn’t turn the ball over and was an eye-popping plus-38 in just 24 minutes. He suggested after the game that there’s still room for improvement. “I’m my worst critic. I know I’m playing like trash,” Brooks said, per ClutchPoints (video link). “I know I’m not shooting the three well, but I’m trying to do all the little things.”
  • Jaren Jackson Jr., who bested Brooks with a plus-42 mark in just 25 minutes on Wednesday, is realizing how dominant he can be at just the right time, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He’s the key,” Brooks said of Jackson. “They’ve got no one to guard him. No one to stop him. He needs to keep demanding the ball and the Warriors are going to have to adjust and double-team him soon. He’s going to have to learn how to pass the ball out to get his teammates shots. That’s what he needs to do. I try to tell him to stay aggressive, and you’re a walking mismatch out there for every single player that guards you, so just keep attacking.”
  • Although the Grizzlies will be playing on the road and missing their best player, Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal isn’t convinced the team’s season will come to an end on Friday in Golden State.
  • In case you missed it, Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year on Thursday.

Dillon Brooks Remorseful For Foul On Payton

Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks expressed remorse for injuring Warriors guard Gary Payton II during Game 2 of their teams’ Western Conference series, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Brooks spoke publicly for the first time since he was assessed Flagrant Foul 2 for his takedown of Payton, who suffered a fractured elbow.

“I didn’t mean for to hurt somebody,” Brooks said. “If I were to take it back in that moment, I would.”

Brooks served a one-game suspension but will return to action for Game 4 on Monday. Payton is out for the remainder of the series and is expected to need at least three weeks to recover.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr and several of his players felt Brooks’ hack was a dirty play. Payton tumbled to the court after Brooks fouled him on a layup attempt. Kerr added that Brooks “broke the code” of how the game is played.

Brooks wasn’t sure how to take that.

“I don’t even know what that means,” Brooks said. “It’s the playoffs. Every bucket, every pass, every possession, every play counts.”

The Grizzlies are eager to get Brooks back, especially given Ja Morant‘s injury status.

“DB’s going to be huge for us,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We always talk about him being a tone-setter for us

Taylor Jenkins: “We Are The Furthest Thing From Dirty”

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins is defending his team against accusations of “dirty” play, writes Drew Hill of The Daily Memphian.

The label started after Dillon Brooks was ejected from Tuesday’s game following a flagrant two foul that knocked Warriors guard Gary Payton II out of the series. Brooks has been suspended for Saturday’s Game 3, and Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he “broke the code” regarding safety among NBA players.

“I also wanted to address a narrative out there that was said between Game 1 and Game 2,” Jenkins said. “It was said that we have to play more physical, and the word dirty has been thrown out there. I look at my locker room and I look at our culture and what we exude — we are the furthest thing from dirty. We are competitive. I want that to be squashed pretty quick here. I know words only mean so much right here. We feel for what Payton is going through and that’s not going to change the course of action, but our guys are going to rally and focus on Game 3.”

Jenkins added that the league has been communicating with Grizzlies vice president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman since Tuesday night about the possibility that Brooks could be suspended. That gave Jenkins additional time to work on a game plan without Brooks available.

Brooks is Memphis’ best perimeter defender and is extremely valuable in countering the Warriors’ small-ball lineup. He has also become an important part of the offense, averaging a career-best 18.4 points per game this season.

“It’s disappointing,” Jenkins said of the suspension. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance and we will honor the league’s decision. It’s a tough play. We wish Gary Payton a speedy and healthy recovery. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

Brooks’ absence on Saturday will likely mean a larger role for rookie Ziaire Williams, who served as the primary defender on Stephen Curry after Brooks was tossed from Game 2, Hill adds. De’Anthony Melton, who had three blocks and two steals on Tuesday, should see more time as well.

“It’s going to be even more of a grind,” Melton said. “It’s going to take mental focus and physical focus even more. We’ve played without guys before, and great teams without guys. We just have to go in and continue to play hard and play our game and have fun.” 

Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks Suspended For Game 3

Grizzlies swingman Dillon Brooks has been suspended for Game 3 of the team’s second-round series against the Warriors, the NBA announced (via Twitter).

Brooks was ejected less than three minutes into Game 2 after committing a Flagrant 2 foul on Gary Payton II, which resulted in Payton sustaining a fractured elbow. The league said Brooks’ “unnecessary and excessive contact” and Payton’s injury factored into its decision.

As Anthony Slater of The Athletic observes (Twitter link), Brooks’ one-game suspension mirrors a similar incident during the regular season, when Grayson Allen‘s hard foul resulted in Alex Caruso suffering a fractured wrist.

Brooks will lose $84,138 for the suspension, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Brooks was limited to 32 games (27.7 MPG) during the regular season, with averages of 18.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.8 APG and 1.1 SPG on .432/.309/.849 shooting. He had an outstanding showing in the playoffs last season, averaging 25.8 PPG and 4.2 RPG on .515/.400/.808 shooting, but he’s struggled with his shot through eight games this season, averaging 13.3 PPG and 2.1 RPG on a .348/.341/.667 slash line.

The 26-year-old is a hard-nosed defender who did a solid job tracking Stephen Curry in Game 1’s one-point loss, but he shot just 3-of-13 from the floor and picked up five fouls in 30 minutes. Memphis will miss his leadership and versatility.

The Grizzlies/Warriors matchup is currently tied at one game apiece, with Game 3 set for Saturday night in San Francisco. With Brooks out, Memphis will rely on its depth to fill his minutes. Similar to Game 2, Ziaire Williams, De’Anthony Melton and Tyus Jones are likely to receive additional playing time.

Grizzlies/Warriors Notes: Morant, Iguodala, Brooks, Green

Despite having his vision affected after he was poked in the eye in the third quarter, star guard Ja Morant had one of the most impressive performances of his career on Tuesday, scoring 47 points – including the Grizzlies‘ final 15 points – to lead the team to a Game 2 victory over Golden State. Morant told reporters after the game that he was having trouble seeing out of his left eye in the fourth quarter, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“I can see on the middle. I can’t see on the outside. I got punched trying to get the rebound,” Morant said. “I got another good eye over here (on the right side) — 20-20 vision right here. Thank God for my right eye.”

As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer details, the Warriors had no answer for Morant after Gary Payton II left Tuesday’s game due to a fractured elbow, and will have to reassess their game plan for defending the electric 22-year-old prior to Game 3 on Saturday.

When asked after Tuesday’s game about the Warriors’ plan for Morant, head coach Steve Kerr said the club hopes Andre Iguodala (neck) will be available for Game 3, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. However, Iguodala is 38 years old and has battled injuries for much of the season, so Golden State can’t realistically expect him to shut down one of the league’s top scorers.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies/Warriors series:

  • Kerr was upset by the flagrant foul that injured Payton and earned Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks an ejection, as Kendra Andrews of ESPN writes. “I don’t know if it was intentional, but it was dirty,” Kerr said. “There is a code. This code that players follow where you never put a guy’s season [or] career in jeopardy by taking somebody out in midair and clubbing him across the head, ultimately fracturing Gary’s elbow … He broke the code. Dillon Brooks broke the code.”
  • The NBA is expected to further evaluate Brooks’ foul to see if it warrants a suspension, Andrews writes. Since there will be three off days before Game 3 tips off on Saturday, an announcement from the league shouldn’t necessarily be expected today.
  • Draymond Green, who briefly returned to the locker room after taking a hit to the right eye, had no regrets about flipping his middle fingers to the crowd on his way off the court, Andrews notes. “You gonna boo someone who was elbowed in the eye and face is running with blood, you should get flipped off,” Green said. “I’ll take the fine. I’ll do an appearance and make up the money. It felt really good to flip them off. … If they are going to be that nasty, I will be nasty too. I’m assuming the cheers were because they know I’ll be fined. Great — I make $25 million a year. I should be just fine.” Green got back in the game after receiving stitches for a right eye laceration, but Kerr said the former Defensive Player of the Year “was struggling” with the injury.

Gary Payton II Leaves Game 2 With Left Elbow Fracture

11:45 PM: Payton has fractured his left elbow, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (via Twitter). Slater notes that tomorrow’s MRI will indicate the severity of the injury.

9:33 PM: The Warriors‘ second-round playoff matchup against the Grizzlies remains chippy as Game 2 takes place tonight.

After taking a hard foul from Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks on a breakaway drive (Twitter video link, as captured by Bleacher Report), Warriors starting shooting guard Gary Payton II exited the contest and headed back to Golden State’s locker room. Brooks was instantly assessed a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected from the game.

The Warriors announced (via Twitter) that they have ruled out Payton for the rest of Game 2, following X-rays on his left elbow (Twitter link). Payton logged just 2:52 of game action.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets that the imaging on the elbow proved “inconclusive,” but that Payton would undergo an MRI tomorrow that would hopefully have more answers for the Warriors.

Payton’s Golden State teammate Draymond Green also left the game after a Grizzlies player fouled him. Memphis center Xavier Tillman elbowed Green in the face, as Trisha Easto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal recaps. Green flashed a rude hand gesture in response to the FedEx Forum crowd, which could incur an NBA fine. The Warriors revealed (Twitter link) that Green suffered a right eye laceration and received stitches. He returned to the contest after being sewn up.

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Bane, Murray, Zion

Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks aimed some critical comments toward former teammate Andre Iguodala, following Memphis’s blowout 123-95 victory over Iguodala’s Warriors on Monday, as Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area relays.

“We all had the vision,” Brooks said in press conference remarks following the contest. “He didn’t, which is perfect. Send him back to the Warriors and let him do his thing over there.”

Iguodala famously opted against joining the Grizzlies upon being traded from Golden State to Memphis in 2019. Instead, the veteran practiced away from the club in anticipation of a trade or buy-out. The Heat would eventually trade for a package top-lined by Iguodala and Jae Crowder ahead of a 2020 NBA Finals run. Iguodala would remain with Miami until the summer of 2021, during which the three-time champion signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal to return to the Warriors.

“From the beginning, we were growing a base, we had a base and we kept building and building and building and more guys got on the train and we were able to create something like this and keep building this dynasty and this program up to new heights,” Brooks said of the Grizzlies, currently the West’s No. 2 seed thanks to a 53-23 record. “Just an amazing feeling to see guys grow every single year. I’ve been here the longest so I’m just happy to see each player grow in their role and to try to exceed their role, which is amazing to see.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane, who has enjoyed a breakout year in Memphis, is relishing his tenure as a reserve point guard in the absence of injured All-Star Ja Morant, writes Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Morant’s backup, Tyus Jones, has moved into a starting role. “It’s growing on me a little bit,” Bane said of running point. “At first I liked playing off the ball, but I’m starting to get more comfortable kind of figuring out my spots and where I can attack with the ball in my hands.” For the first time ever at the NBA level, the second-year guard recently notched four straight games with five assists or more.
  • At 2.1 steals per game, Spurs All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray is the first San Antonio player to lead the league in steals since former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard did so during the 2014/15 NBA season, notes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “He’s got a natural ability in that area,” raved head coach Gregg Popovich said. “He reads things and sees the spatial relationships. That’s all him.” Murray himself cites his speed for this defensive skill. “I think that’s just me having quick hands, the vision of it, knowing how to time it,” Murray said. “I’m not in it to be the league leader. That’s just Dejounte trying to be active on both ends of the floor. If that helps us get wins, I’m going to continue to try and get better at it.” Thanks in large part to the play of Murray, the 31-44 Spurs have climbed their way into the Western Conference’s play-in tournament bracket as the present No. 10 seed, though they are tied by record with the Lakers.
  • 2021 All-Star Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, who has missed the entire 2021/22 NBA season thus far due to a foot fracture, traveled with his teammates on a multi-game road trip for the first time this year, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, though Williamson is still indefinitely sidelined, he appears to be approving in his rehab. The 32-43 Pelicans are the West’s ninth seed even sans Williamson, and appear poised to make a play-in tournament appearance.

Dillon Brooks Expected To Return Next Week For Grizzlies

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said on Friday that Dillon Brooks is expected to return for the team’s upcoming road trip, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.

Brooks has been playing five-on-five as he recovers from a left ankle sprain that has sidelined him since January 8 — he has missed the past 26 games (27 including Friday’s contest vs. New York).

Memphis has three games next week, all on the road — March 13 at Oklahoma City, March 15 at Indiana, and March 18 at Atlanta. The Grizzlies finish out the road trip on Sunday, March 20, at Houston. Brooks could return at any point during the four-game stretch, depending on how he’s feeling.

The 26-year-old is in his fifth season in the NBA, all with Memphis. Through 21 games (28 minutes) this season, he’s averaging 18.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 steals on .426/.327/.889 shooting. Brooks is a strong, versatile defender and is known as a locker room leader.

Brooks has unfortunately been beset by a number of issues this season. First, he missed the team’s first 10 games while recovering from a fractured left hand that he suffered over the summer.

He was able to play for about a month-and-a-half, then he entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols at the end of December and missed six games. In just his second game back after clearing the protocols, he suffered the sprained ankle.

Brooks’ return will be a welcome boost for the ascendant Grizzlies, who currently hold a 45-22 record, good for the second seed in the West.

Injury Notes: J. Brown, Edwards, Brooks, Iguodala

Appearing on the Toucher & Rich radio show in Boston on Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens confirmed that Jaylen Brown‘s sprained ankle, which sidelined him for Thursday’s game vs. Memphis, doesn’t look like a significant injury.

“I think he’s doing better than I originally thought when I saw him go down,” Stevens said, per Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. “He’s going to be constantly reevaluated over the next couple days … but it doesn’t look like a long-term thing.”

The Celtics have two days off before facing Brooklyn on Sunday, and then another two days off before visiting Charlotte on Wednesday. It’s unclear at this point whether Brown will play in either of those games.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards missed Tuesday’s game due to a left knee issue and has been ruled out for Friday’s contest too. Head coach Chris Finch stated earlier in the week that the club was considering giving Edwards multiple games off to try to get him right for the stretch run, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “Everything is on the table right now to try to get him where he needs to be,” Finch said.
  • Dillon Brooks (ankle) doesn’t yet have a specific return date lined up, but Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said the forward took a “huge step” in his recovery process this week, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He’s been fully integrated,” Jenkins said. “We haven’t had a lot practices to get him out there. We’re not going live or contact. He’s doing contact in other settings, but he’s been fully involved in all of our team film sessions.”
  • Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala (back), who has played just once since January 20, is “making strides,” according to head coach Steve Kerr (Twitter link via Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area). The team still wants to have Iguodala participate in more scrimmages before he’s cleared to return, so he’s considered day-to-day for now.

Injury Updates: Oladipo, Morris, Nets, Brooks, Hampton

Heat guard Victor Oladipo (knee) and forward Markieff Morris (neck) traveled with the team to New York, but won’t play in Friday’s game vs. the Knicks and still don’t have timelines for their respective returns, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

“They were able to do a lot (in Thursday’s practice),” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, per Chiang. “I’m not going to give you all the details. There’s nothing that’s imminent right now. This is all just part of the process. But it was good to have the entire group here at practice and getting after it, and getting a little bit of the rust off by competing and try to get ready for the stretch run.”

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Nets head coach Steve Nash said it’s possible Kevin Durant (knee) and/or Goran Dragic could play as soon as Saturday, but said it’s more likely to happen at some point next week, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Nash expressed optimism that both players will be active beginning either Monday vs. Toronto, Tuesday in Toronto, or Thursday vs. Miami.
  • Dillon Brooks‘ recovery from a left ankle injury is “progressing well,” per Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins (Twitter link via Grizzly Bear Blues). A previous report stated that Brooks is expected to be back at some point in early March, and that timeline hasn’t changed.
  • Magic guard R.J. Hampton had been expected to return to action on Friday night after missing 14 games due to an MCL sprain and bone bruise in his left knee. However, Hampton sprained his left ankle during Friday’s shootaround and is now questionable to play, tweets Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel.