Watanabe leads late rally as youthful Grizz defeat Pacers in OT

By Updated: October 07, 2018 12:04 AM CT | Published: October 06, 2018 10:29 PM CT

A night after relying on veterans for a home preseason win, the Memphis Grizzlies yielded to their youth.

And the reserves – led down the stretch by rookie Yuta Watanabe -- ended up going extra time for the victory over Indiana.

An unlikely 27-foot banked 3-pointer by Watanabe with 7.5 seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime tied at 94- all. Then, his layup with just under 3 minutes left provided the buffer for Memphis to eventually grab a 109-104 overtime victory over the Pacers.

Watanabe would finish the night with 11 points, connecting on 5-of-7 shots, including the game-tying 3-pointer.

“That felt great,” the rookie out of George Washington said. “Especially when I hit the shot and the crowd went crazy, and the bench was going nuts. I really appreciate their energy and I loved it.”

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the coaching staff thought the could take advantage of matchup they liked and set up the play for the rookie. “He ended up catching it and making a huge play,” Bickerstaff said. “His teammates were enjoying him.”

The win came a night after Memphis defeated Atlanta 120-110.

True to his word, Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff gave younger players more time on the second night of a back-to-back – a plan evident from the start when Marc Gasol and Mike Conley gave way to others in the starting lineup.

While Chandler Parsons and JaMychal Green each started the third games of the preseason, Garrett Temple, Shelvin Mack and Wayne Selden joined them at center court for the opening tip.

Asked about the change, Bickerstaff noted the Grizzlies were playing a back-to-back in preseason, “and obviously this being our first opponent (in Indiana on Oct. 17) to start the regular season, just how much we’re willing to show them,” he said of steering away from his regular lineup.

Wayne Selden seized his opportunity providing 16 points and nine assists, converting 6 of his 10 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers. Meanwhile, rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. joined the game’s youth movement leading the Grizzlies with 18 points, plus a half dozen rebounds.

“He struggled a bit (against Atlanta), but just being who he is, he came back and showed himself,” Bickerstaff said. “I think he did a really good job. We got him the ball down there on the block, and he was able to score, knock down a three.”



The start of the game was delayed 19 minutes because of clock malfunction that became evident at the tip – when the clock didn’t move off 12:00 and 24 seconds on the shot clock. Free agent signee Kyle Anderson remained on the shelf in Saturday night’s game nursing a sore left heel. Anderson has not played in the last two games. “He’s moving in the right direction,” Bickerstaff said, adding: “We expect him to be full go in practice on Monday, barring any setbacks.” While JaMychal Green and Chandler Parsons started, they got their 7 minutes of work in during the first quarter and joined Conley and Gasol taking the rest of the night off. Ivan Rabb grabbed 12 rebounds. Mack, starting at point guard, handed out seven assists, while connecting on 3-of-4 from the field, including his only 3-point attempt. The Grizzlies have scored 100 points in all three preseason games.


Watanabe’s 3-pointer at the end of regulation, wasn’t the only time he brought the crowd to its feet. With about 7 minutes left in regulation, Watanabe sprinted out on a breakaway, finishing with a two-handed dunk.

That was different from Friday night against Atlanta when – within seconds of entering the game – Watanabe was posterized by Miles Plumlee dunk.

“I got dunked on in like 10 seconds after I subbed in,” he said. “That was probably the worst way to start my professional career so there was nothing to be afraid of right now.”


Before the game, the officiating crew spent about a half hour with the media explaining the points of emphasis and education for this season. An officiating crew holds such sessions annually, usually early in the season.

The tutorial dealt with three specific areas – restricted movements, both on defense and offense, traveling and respect for the game.

One of the movement issues is no more arm wraps, a tactic that became a problem on picks and even by offensive players such as gaining an advantage in the post. Basically, arm wraps are illegal, the officials said.

As for traveling, officials are concentrating more on a player switching his pivot foot, particularly upon receiving the ball on a pass, both on the perimeter and in the post.

Crew chief Zach Zarba said officials routinely are trained to watch the actions of the defenders and not concentrate as much on offensive players, such as their feet.

Zarba said the league is looking for consistency in all of the points of emphasis to eliminate gray areas on calls.


“Coach drew the play up for me, so no matter what, I was going to take the shot. Luckily, it went in. Not really. I was at least aiming.” --,” Watanabe on the 3-pointer that eventually sent the game into overtime.


Grizzlies get a few days off from games before heading to Orlando to face the Magic on Wednesday. Memphis will not practice Sunday.


Memphis Grizzlies Indiana Pacers Yuta Watanabe Wayne Selden
Clay Bailey

Clay Bailey

Clay Bailey, a lifelong Memphian, has worked as a reporter in the city almost four decades. He concentrated on suburban coverage. He also is a freelance sportswriter for the Associated Press.

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