ORLANDO, Fla. — There were a lot of moving parts before Thursday’s NBA action, but for the Memphis Grizzlies, their mission was simple: win and move on.
The Grizzlies beat the Milwaukee Bucks 119-106 inside the Visa Athletic Center at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
Memphis will know if they will be seeded 8th or 9th after the Portland Trail Blazers game. Before the game, the path was laid out for the Grizzlies. Memphis would be seeded No. 8 if Grizz won and Blazers lost, and they would be seeded No. 9 if Grizz won and Blazers win OR if Grizzlies, Suns and Spurs all lose. They would be eliminated if they lost and either the Suns or Spurs won.
Jonas Valanciunas had his first career triple double, with 26 points, 19 rebounds, and 12 assists. As if having one triple double wasn’t enough, Ja Morant also joined that club with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.
The Memphis Grizzlies, who are in full rebuild mode, are building faster than many basketball experts and fans expected. With the Grit-n-Grind era in their rear view mirror, the Grizzlies youth movement paid dividends early in the rebuilding process.
Memphis led 22-21 after the first quarter, which saw 24-year-old Dillon Brooks tossing in 9 points, and Ja Morant, who turned 21 years old August 10, contributing 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Memphis jumped out quickly in the 2nd quarter, outscoring the Bucks 7-0 on their way to a 60-50 halftime lead. Jonas Valanciunas had a huge first half, nearly earning a triple double with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 7assists. NBA Rookie of the Year finalist Ja Morant had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
The Bucks played without reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was suspended for head-butting Washington's Moe Wagner during a game earlier in the week.
The Grizz opened a 23-point lead with 1:38 to go in the 3rd quarter and led 93-74 at the end of that quarter.