Bane’s 28, Morant’s good finish lead Grizzlies past Wizards
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Desmond Bane scored 28 points, Ja Morant added 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and the Memphis Grizzlies held on for a 103-97 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday.
After Washington rallied in the third quarter, the teams exchanged leads early in the fourth. Memphis went on a 9-0 run, with Morant scoring six, and the Grizzlies held on for their third straight win.
“Outside of the third quarter, I thought our offense really impacted our defense,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “In the third quarter, we just got stagnant. Some missed shots that turned into transition for them.”
The Wizards were without leading scorer Bradley Beal, who was in the league’s health and safety protocols, eliminating 21.6 points and 5.7 assists from the Washington lineup.
Bane shot 9 for 16 from the field, while Morant made only nine of 27 shots. Brandon Clarke scored 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting.
Monte Morris had 18 points for the Wizards, while Rui Hachimura scored 15 and keyed a third-quarter Washington rally. Kyle Kuzma and Will Barton finished with 12 points apiece.
“I do like our competitive spirit,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “You win three of four quarters. You played relatively well. You had great looks down the stretch that would have opened the game a little bit for us.”
The Wizards were coming off a 42-point loss to Brooklyn on Friday with Beal playing, while Memphis beat Charlotte by 31 points. But the Grizzlies offense was stagnant to open the game Sunday, allowing the Wizards an early lead.
Memphis rebounded to outscore Washington 33-18 in the second quarter, helped by Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis (10 points) sitting with two fouls through the first part of the period.
But, unlike the Brooklyn loss, when the Nets took control of the game in the second half, Washington showed new life after halftime, erasing most of a 23-point Memphis lead. Hachimura would hit all four of his shots in the third to tighten the game before the Grizzlies regained control in the fourth.
“We’ve got pride in everything,” Morris said, reflecting on the Brooklyn loss. “We didn’t want the same result to happen. …We spoke about it prior to going out for the second half, knowing that is kind of where we let the (Brooklyn) game get away from us.”
But the closing minutes may be an example of the Grizzlies’ maturity, according to Bane. He noted that in the past, the result could have been different after the Wizards surged into the lead.
“I think a younger Grizzlies team might have found a way to lose that game,” Bane said. “Not able to close it. We’re obviously young, but a lot of our guys that were on the floor towards the end of the game played together before and have experience, so we were able to weather the storm.”
Wizards: With Beal out, Corey Kispert started at guard with Morris. It was Kispert’s first start of the season after missing the early portion with a left ankle sprain. Kispert finished with six points and three assists. … Kuzma grabbed his 1,800th career defensive rebound midway through the second quarter. …Two-way player Jordan Goodwin had nine points, eight rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes.
Grizzlies: C Steven Adams left the game early in the third quarter after an ankle injury but returned in the fourth quarter. … Clarke passed JaMychal Green for 23rd spot on the franchise’s made shots list with 878.
Clarke’s lone miss may have been on his easiest shot, a lob that clanked off the back of the rim as he tried to finish the dunk. “I think it was because I had my pinkie taped,” Clarke said of the bandage on a finger he tweaked in the two-game series with Utah last week. “I’m going to blame it on my pinkie because I always make that. I was looking at the rim, and it didn’t want to go in.”
Wizards: Play at Charlotte on Monday.
Grizzlies: Wrap up a three-game homestand against the Boston Celtics on Monday.
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