Jaren Jackson Jr. responds with shots on target, lifting Grizzlies past Nuggets again

Evan Barnes
Memphis Commercial Appeal
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Jaren Jackson Jr. told Memphis Grizzlies fans not to be concerned about his shooting slump to start the season. He vowed to play through it and advised fans to get tickets for Wednesday's game against the Denver Nuggets.

The fans who listened saw the forward get FedExForum pumped with a 3-pointer before the end of the third quarter. They got even louder when Jackson opened the fourth with a pair of 3-pointers that gave the Grizzlies a brief lead and had Ziaire Williams jumping for joy.

Jackson added one final touch by defending Nikola Jokic's potential game-tying layup. When Jokic's shot missed, Jackson raised both hands in the air and the Grizzlies celebrated a second consecutive win over the Nuggets.

Here's what we learned as the Grizzlies (5-3) prevailed 108-106 to continue their best start since 2017.

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Jackson closes game with inspired play

Jackson scored just 11 points in Monday's 106-97 win against Denver but had 11 points and five rebounds in the fourth quarter. He was active on defense and his play lifted the Grizzlies from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter.

On the final possession, he credited watching tape for knowing Jokic would look at the clock and try to get his shot to the front of the rim. It's not easy to slow down the league's reigning Most Valuable Player but Jackson took on the challenge to cap a strong defensive performance.

Memphis Grizzlies guard De'Anthony Melton celebrates his dunk with teammate Jaren Jackson Jr at center court during their game against the Denver Nuggets at FedExForum on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

Jackson finished with a season-high 22 points (5-9 on 3-pointers), eight rebounds and three blocks. His slow start was fair game for critics but Wednesday showed how different the Grizzlies can be when he's at his best.

Morant, Bane add finishing daggers

After missing a game-tying free throw against the Lakers on Oct. 24, Ja Morant said he'd be ready the next time he needed to make clutch free throws.

With 10.6 seconds left, Morant missed the first but made the second. It was just enough and Morant, who added a pair of dunk highlights, finished with 17 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Desmond Bane had 16 points and his 3-pointer with 1:20 left broke a 104-104 tie and kept the Grizzlies up for good. For the seventh time in eighth games, he finished with multiple 3-pointers (three) and he also took as many 2-point shots (seven) as threes.

Will Barton returns

It's not a surprise when Will Barton plays well here. The former Memphis Tigers standout is familiar with FedExForum and he added another strong showing for the Nuggets (4-4).

Barton had just four points Monday but had 26 points on 11-of-21 shooting. Jokic added 34 points and 11 rebounds. But it was another good homecoming for Barton, who got a fair amount of cheers prior to both games.

He also got a hug at halftime from former Grizzlies guard Mike Miller, who sat next to the team's bench during the game.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ziaire Williams reacts to his 3-point shot against the Denver Nuggets during their game at FedExForum on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

Ziaire Williams reaches career-high

WIlliams joked Tuesday that he wanted to start shooting as well as teammate Sam Merrill. After going 2-for-11 Monday, his teammates reminded him to keep shooting no matter what.

Williams did just that in the first quarter. He made three corner 3-pointers, a shot that he's comfortable with his rookie season, and finished with 11 points for the first double-digit scoring game of his career.

Moments like that are why the Grizzlies believe in Williams' potential. Twenty-one of Williams' 48 field goal attempts have been corner 3-pointers and he's shooting 33.3%. 

Next up

The Grizzlies return to the road to face the Washington Wizards Friday (6 p.m., Bally Sports Southeast).

Memphis was 2-0 against the Wizards last season and Morant has always been a fan of the nation's capital. He had his first career-triple double there as a rookie and had 35 points and 10 assists in his lone game there last season.

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You can reach Evan Barnes on Twitter (@Evan_B) or by email at [email protected]

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