Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins had delivered the same sermon to the Grizzlies previously this season, but their performance against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday simply provided additional ammunition for his motivational speeches.
The Grizzlies beat the visiting Lakers 108-95 and improved to 6-1 without dynamic point guard Ja Morant. Memphis has won those six games by an average margin of 23.7 points and again proved its potency despite being shorthanded, a Jenkins talking point.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, where you’re playing, what happened the games before and all that stuff,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to play to our standard, and this is definitely a standard-type win. If we come out and play with that edge, you never know how the game is going to go.
“You’re playing down, you’re playing against a team with a lot of force. How are we going to continue to find our way over 48 minutes?” he continued.
The Grizzlies will host the Houston Rockets on Saturday looking to continue their stellar play with Morant sidelined, and seeking to further confirm their status as a contender in the West.
Defeating the Lakers offered another glimpse of where the Grizzlies are headed, but Jenkins won’t allow them to rest on their laurels despite what the victory may represent in the big picture.
“They know me,” Jenkins said. “I’m going to turn the page to the next one and say, ‘Hey guys, we’ve got to get better.'”
The Rockets saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end Friday at the hands of the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks, but Houston did not go down without a spirited effort.
The Rockets led by as many as 10 points before succumbing late, as the Bucks limited Houston to 19 points in the fourth quarter en route to a 123-114 victory.
With five players scoring in double figures, the Rockets gave the Bucks fits throughout the game, but when Milwaukee turned the screws defensively down the stretch, Houston couldn’t finish off the upset.
“I keep saying if we do it the right way, the result will take care of itself,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “We were getting the shots that we wanted for the most part; there were a few loose possessions, for sure. But as far as our execution and that kind of thing, it was better.”
The next step for the Rockets following their surprising winning streak remains to be seen. Houston did most of its damage against fellow non-contenders, but the Rockets did manage to defeat the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets along the way.
The performance against the Bucks offered a clear view of what sincere effort and execution can yield, even in defeat.
However, the Rockets expended a ton of effort stringing together seven consecutive wins and grinded throughout against the Bucks. They will be challenged to find more juice in Memphis.
“Yeah, it’s going to be hard,” Silas said. “I told the guys they have to take care of their bodies tonight and tomorrow so we have the requisite energy for tomorrow’s game because we’re going to need a bunch of it. The guys who played less minutes tonight might get some more tomorrow night so, yeah, we’ve got to be ready for it. That’s the NBA.”