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VOL. 132 | NO. 227 | Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Grizzlies’ $3.3 Million Steal, Tyreke Evans, Playing Toward a Payday

By Don Wade

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The Grizzlies didn’t quite score enough points in losing 110-103 in Milwaukee to finish 2-3 on a five-game road stretch. But not because Tyreke Evans didn’t try to carry the Grizzlies to victory yet again.

Evans finished with 27 points. Off the bench. He connected on 11 of the 16 shots he attempted. It was his sixth straight game with 20 or more points off the bench, the third time he has scored 25 or more points (he had a season-high 32 points in the home loss to Orlando) and he has reached double-figures in every game but the win at Houston back on Oct. 23.

Coach David Fizdale increasingly has leaned on Evans to keep the offense going, which has been hampered by Mike Conley’s subpar play and Marc Gasol’s periodic passivity.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans (12) shoots in the second half of an NBA game against the Houston Rockets Oct. 28 at FedExForum in Memphis. (AP Photo File/Brandon Dill)

Evans has played 30 or more minutes in five of the last six games. He’s averaging 18.5 points (second to Gasol’s 18.9), 4.9 rebounds (second to Gasol’s 9.0), and 3.1 assists (fourth on the team) and shooting 44.8 percent from 3-point range (second to Chandler Parsons), but leads the team with 26 made threes.

Ladies and gentlemen, your team MVP through 13 games and a 7-6 record: Tyreke Jamir Evans.

He also has to rank as one of the best bargains in the NBA right now. The Grizzlies signed him last summer to a one-year $3.3 million contract.

At the rate he’s going, the 28-year-old former University of Memphis Tiger is playing himself into a long-term contract with someone after the season. He has to sustain what he’s done, of course, but he has plenty of motivation and also opportunity on this team.

BY THE NUMBERS

Through games of Nov. 14, the Grizzlies did not have a player among the Top 30 in scoring (Gasol was 34th). Gasol was 17th in the NBA in rebounds per game. Conley’s 4.1 assists had him tied for 43rd in the league. Among the players ahead of Conley: New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins, 18th with 5.8 assists; Milwaukee small forward Khris Middleton, 30th, 4.8; and Denver center Nikola Jokic, 37th, with 4.6.

Paul George of Oklahoma City leads the league in steals per game at 2.54. Mario Chalmers and rookie Dillon Brooks were the highest-ranking Grizzlies, each averaging 1.23 steals and tied for 53rd.

Utah center Rudy Gobert was the top shot-blocker with 2.50 per game. Gasol was tied for 12th with 1.62 blocks per game.

Brooks was averaging 3.8 fouls per game, tied for fourth-most in the NBA.

GRIZZLIES WEST (SACRAMENTO)

Thirteen games in, the Kings were just 3-10. The team coached by former Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger was led in scoring by Zach Randolph – 12.7 points, and Randolph’s 6.3 rebounds barely trailed former Grizz center Kosta Koufos, who was averaging 6.5 boards in just 19 minutes per game.

Vince Carter, 40, the oldest player in the NBA, had played nine games and was averaging 2.6 points in 12 minutes per game.

Sacramento already has endured a seven-game losing streak this season and had lost two straight going into its Wednesday, Nov. 15, game at Atlanta.

WARRIORS JUST FINE

(OR HOW THE ELITE LIVE)

After the Grizzlies beat Golden State at FedExForum, the reigning NBA champs were 1-2. Since then, they are 10-1 and will carry an 11-3 record into their next game on Thursday, Nov. 15, at Boston.

Their latest victory – their seventh straight – was a 110-100 win over Orlando. Steph Curry rested a sore thigh muscle, but Kevin Durant was spry with 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

Draymond Green had 20 points with five assists and four rebounds and Klay Thompson chipped in 15 points with five assists and four rebounds. Shaun Livingston took Curry’s place in the starting lineup and gave Golden State 16 points and six assists.

Plus, the bench provided the Warriors with 34 points and 11 assists and David West was the team’s top rebounder, off the bench, with 11 boards – plus five assists and four points.

“We’re really, really lucky to have the talent that we do,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “We can win games without Steph or KD or Draymond or Klay because we’ve got a lot of guys who can really play. It’s an incredible roster and we should be able to win games when some of our stars are down.”

Kinda makes you sick, doesn’t it?

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