A win in a loss: Rookie Carter makes impression in Grizzly defeat

Jevon Carter made his NBA debut for the Grizzlies on Saturday night.

In what had become a bit of a lost weekend for the Memphis Grizzlies, they may have found themselves a player.

While Memphis lost out on acquiring forward Kelly Oubre from the Washington Wizards as part of a failed three-team trade, the Grizzlies bowed to the visiting Miami Heat on Friday night, 100-97, then followed it with a 105-97 loss to the visiting Houston Rockets the next night.

However, in the second quarter in the loss to the Rockets, Jevon Carter made his NBA debut and judging from his performance, he won’t be returning to the pine anytime soon.

After not playing in Memphis’ first 28 games this season, Carter logged 22 minutes in his debut, including the final 18 minutes of the game. He scored 11 points, on a 5-of-9 shooting performance, and came up with two steals.

A second-round pick, chosen 22nd overall by the Grizzlies, the point guard who played four years collegiately at West Virginia described waiting his turn.

“It’s just a part of the game. It’s a process,” he said, according to Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian. “Every day I come in here, I work, and I just wait. I just give my best effort — being a good teammate on the bench for these guys. I love these guys, so whatever I can do to help is what I’ll do.”

Memphis could use the shot in the arm Carter provided. After getting off to a 12-5 start, the Grizzlies have now lost four out of their last five games and won only four times in their last dozen contests.

“It felt good,” Carter said, according to David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Especially when the fans went crazy when I checked in, that kind of sounded like the ovation I had my last game at West Virginia. It was just good to be out there.”

Count Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff among those impressed by Carter’s effort and performance in his first NBA game, which included being matched up against future Hall of Famers James Harden and Chris Paul of the Rockets.

“I thought that he gave us a huge spark,” Bickerstaff said after the game. “When you watched him play in college, and even when he’s been with the (G League Memphis) Hustle, that toughness and that mindset is the reason why we drafted him. To have this opportunity to go after two future Hall-of-Famers with a fearless nature says a lot about him.”

For his part, Carter scoffed at the notion he might have had reservations going against the likes of Harden and Paul.

“Man, I have no fear with the game of basketball,” he said. “What is there to be scared of? There ain’t no point.”

Harden, in turn, said Carter caught his attention.

“He is very active, he plays his butt off, he is everywhere on the floor,” he said. “He did an unbelievable job pressing me and Chris up the floor, creating some defense and offense. He was very active.”

Memphis center Marc Gasol noticed Carter’s impact, too.

“He inspired all of us, I think,” he said. “It changed the dynamic of the game, lifted the team and it was great to see.”

Now that the lid has been lifted on his NBA career, Carter said there’s no turning back.

“It was fun,” he said. “I’m a competitor. I want to play against the best. At this level, that’s just what it’s going to be. Night in and night out, you’re going to play against guys like that, and you’ve got to be able to compete.”

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