After losing to the Lakers in L.A. Friday night, the Memphis Grizzlies scooted up I-5 to Sacramento for Sunday’s scrap with the Kings. They clawed themselves back up to .500 thanks to the Kings’ bone-deep aversion toward defense as a concept or practice. Practically everyone on the Grizz had a good game, although center Jonas Valanciunas was particularly well suited to take advantage of Sacramento’s porous frontline, as he put up an efficient 25 points and 13 rebounds on 11-of-14 shooting.
In the process of his double-double, Valanciunas also behaved like a real asshole. Late in the fourth quarter, Kings big man Chimezie Metu jammed it right on Valanciunas’s head, and ended up above his opponent while hanging on the rim. Rather than disentangle, Valanciunas chose to lock onto Metu’s leg and tornado-slam him to the hardwood. Metu was fine, but he could have suffered a serious injury with this fall.
Valanciunas received a technical foul, and on the next possession, he went out of his way to get the last word. Ja Morant and Valanciunas ran a pick-and-roll that manufactured an easy jam for the big man, and he spent some extra time on the rim in an attempt to dangle on a King or two. He caught his former Raptors teammate Cory Joseph, not Metu, but close enough.
“That was a dangerous play,” Kings coach Luke Walton said of Valanciunas after the game. “He hooked him by the leg and tried to throw him down. So I didn’t understand how that is not, in what today’s NBA is, is not even considered a flagrant foul. I don’t see how that’s a basketball play.”
“I said we’re going to do the same thing they do to us and get the win at the same time,” Morant said. The Grizzlies did get the 124-110 win, though Morant’s framing is flawed. Metu had nowhere to safely land after his dunk; Valanciunas was in the way. Valanciunas made it all about himself, was lucky he didn’t get ejected, then tried to retaliate on a player who had nothing to do with the dunk. He should’ve done what I hope the Kings will soon do to Joseph: Ignore him.