Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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NBA Preview: Memphis Grizzlies (0-6) at Portland Trail Blazers (3-3)

The Portland Trail Blazers dealt the Memphis Grizzlies more misery in the first contest of a two-game set.

Now the Trail Blazers look to make it a sweep when they entertain Memphis again on Sunday night in Portland.

The Trail Blazers trailed by 10 points with 3:21 left in regulation on Friday night before using a 12-2 run and a superb defensive play by Shaedon Sharpe to push the game into overtime. Portland led by seven in the extra session before prevailing 115-113.

The disappointing loss dropped the Grizzlies to 0-6, their worst start since losing 13 straight games to begin the 2002-03 season.

The victory was the third straight for the Trail Blazers.

Sharpe scored 22 points for his fourth 20-point effort of the season. Malcolm Brogdon scored eight points during the late 12-2 surge and Sharpe hit the tying free throws with 8.3 seconds left in regulation.

Memphis had a chance to win, and Luke Kennard was open in the right corner. Sharpe darted over and swatted the shot out of bounds as time expired.

Sharpe played 46 minutes despite battling a cold.

Jerami Grant (26 points, eight rebounds) and Brogdon (24 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals) also had big games for Portland in the contest that was part of the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament.

Desmond Bane stood out for Memphis with 33 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals and three blocked shots, but the Grizzlies fell short of grabbing that elusive first victory.

Jaren Jackson Jr. added 30 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Grizzlies.

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins was displeased with the late-game defense and will be looking to shore things up on that end in the rematch.

Entering Saturday’s play, Memphis ranks 24th in scoring defense at 117.5 points allowed per game. The fewest the Grizzlies have allowed is 108 during a four-point loss to the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 27.

The 113 points against the Trail Blazers was Memphis’ best offensive output of the season. The individual point totals of both Bane and Jackson were season highs.

Part of the Grizzlies’ troubles stem from not having star point guard Ja Morant, who is serving a 25-game suspension for detrimental conduct.

Marcus Smart has been handling most of the point guard duties. Smart, acquired from the Boston Celtics in the offseason, has committed 16 turnovers over the past three games and 25 for the season.

Smart had eight points on 4-of-12 shooting against Portland. He had four assists and committed five turnovers.

Smart is averaging 14.7 points, 5.5 assists and 2.8 steals. Portland’s Scoot Henderson, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, missed Friday’s game with a sprained right ankle. His availability for Sunday hasn’t yet been determined.

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