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Portland Trail Blazers at Memphis Grizzlies Preview

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The Blazers hope to avoid the blues in Memphis.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (25-30) at Memphis Grizzlies (27-26)

February 12, 2020 - 5:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Nassir Little (out), Mario Hezonja (out)
Grizzlies injuries: Grayson Allen (out), Justise Winslow (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Grizzly Bear Blues

The Portland Trail Blazers arrive in Memphis on night two of a travel back-to-back after losing to the New Orleans Pelicans 138-117. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum each scored 20 points. Hassan Whiteside had a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Off the bench, Wenyen Gabriel contributed 12 points in approximately 13 and a half minutes of play.

The Memphis Grizzlies welcome the Blazers after a win over the Washington Wizards 106-99. Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 27 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds for his first triple-double. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 14 points with 11 rebounds for a double-double. Though the Grizzlies were behind the Wizards for most of the second half, Morant’s scoring got them the win, as he scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter alone.

What to watch for

New (old?) faces. Wenyen Gabriel showed flashes of promise against the Pelicans, coming off the bench to score 12 points. Jaylen Hoard, called up from the G League alongside fellow two-way player Moses Brown, added six points and displayed some tough play. Given how thin the Blazers’ roster is at the moment, these youngsters could provide valuable energy when this team needs it most.

Battle of the Point Guards. Ja Morant is one of the hottest players in the league right now. So is Damian Lillard. Whoever can outplay the other is going to give their team a clear edge. Perhaps the rest at the end of the fourth will help Lillard bounce back after a rough outing against the Pelicans. Either way, this will be a fun matchup to watch—after all, iron sharpens iron.

Zip your lips. Both Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony received technicals in the game against the Pelicans. While the officiating of late has certainly been worthy of question, the fact remains that there is one game for the Blazers prior to the All-Star break, and they need to focus on what’s important: winning. Frankly, nothing else matters at this point, especially if the Blazers want to redefine their season after the break.

What they’re saying

Jared Dubin of Five Thirty Eight digs into Ja Morant’s contributions so far this season.

Morant’s shooting numbers are also excellent for a player his age and his size: 49.7 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from beyond the arc. Among the 156 players 6-foot-3 or shorter to average at least 20 minutes per game during their rookie season, his effective field-goal percentage is fifth-best. Though he does not shoot from three all that often, 3 Morant has proven accurate when he does. (Just ask James Harden.)

StatsSAC over at Grizzly Bear Blues examines the significance of tonight’s matchup for a rebuilt Grizzlies squad:

For the Memphis Grizzlies, expectations were low. Coming off a second consecutive season that resulted in a Top-5 draft pick and one of the most thorough roster turnovers in the NBA, many expected Memphis to be one of the worst teams in the league. However, rookies Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke have proven to be immediate impact players, while the further development of Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, and a deep and productive bench has made Memphis a playoff contender. Though the Grizzlies rebuild is mere months old, it has been a resounding success so far and has resulted in Memphis becoming one of the biggest surprises in the NBA.