Memphis Grizzlies: 3 keys to their streak-snapping win

Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images /

A quality win ends a nearly month-long losing streak for the Memphis Grizzlies.

The 2017-18 NBA season has been defined by streaks so far. The Boston Celtics ripped off 16 straight unlikely wins after losing Gordon Hayward, and the Cleveland Cavaliers have righted the ship after early struggles and have currently won 12 in a row.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Los Angeles Clippers dropped nine consecutive games amidst injuries and slipped out of the Western Conference playoff race. No streak around the league, however, has inspired more confusion and disappointment than the Memphis Grizzlies‘ 11-game skid, which mercifully ended Monday night as they beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-92.

Here are three key reasons Memphis was able to pull away against the Wolves.

1. The Grizzlies pushed the pace

Simply put, the Wolves looked wholly unprepared for the barrage of fast break points the Grizzlies unleashed on them Monday night. Coming off of a back-to-back might have been a factor for Minnesota, as they were outscored 24-8 in the fast break category. Memphis has perpetually been one of the slowest teams in the NBA, ranking last in pace this season and 28th last year, per

One reason for this shift in character for the Grizzlies could be the new face in the head coaching chair. Interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has a diverse coaching record, including a stint with the notoriously fast-paced Houston Rockets. In Monday night’s game, players like Tyreke Evans and James Ennis looked right at home playing that style:

Ennis and Evans may not recreate 2011 LeBron James and Dwyane Wade again all season, but it felt fitting that the first win in weeks for Memphis was also fun to watch.

2. Karl-Anthony Towns was a nonfactor

The Timberwolves are still integrating Jimmy Butler, and while that process as gone relatively smoothly, teams that add major new pieces tend to have games like this every once in a while. Butler was at his best, scoring 30 points, dishing out five assists and racking up four steals, but incumbent superstar Karl-Anthony Towns was nowhere to be found for much of this game. He finished with seven points on 2-of-6 shooting, and didn’t attempt shots in the first or third quarters.

Questions about Towns’ defense have begun to emerge as he begins his third season, but it’s rare to see him have such a minor impact on the game offensively. There are several explanations for his off night — fatigue and Marc Gasol‘s defense chief among them — but his struggles were certainly notable: Monday night was the first time in Towns’ career that he scored single-digit points while playing at least 30 minutes in a game.

3. Deyonta Davis came alive

A once-hyped draft prospect who slipped to the second round, Deyonta Davis hasn’t done a whole lot to make the Grizzlies look smart for taking a flier on him in the 2016 NBA Draft.

That may have started to change in the now-infamous loss to the Brooklyn Nets, when David Fizdale elected to keep his second-year big in the game down the stretch instead of inserting established star Marc Gasol.

That decision may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and cost Fizdale his job, but Davis’ minutes have finally become steady in the past few games. He had his best performance of the season Monday, packing a handful of highlight plays into just 10 minutes of game action.

Davis had six points and two blocks against the Wolves, and he played with the type of infectious energy that earns young players more minutes in the NBA.

Next: 2017-18 Week 8 NBA Power Rankings

If he emerges as a promising talent, it could be a real silver lining in a down season for the Grizzlies.