Morant has career-high 17 assists, Grizzlies rout Raptors

Dec 29, 2022, 5:05 AM | Updated: 7:59 pm
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) drives to the basket past Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Ba...

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) drives to the basket past Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes (4) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

              Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) drives against Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones (21) jumps for the ball with Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch (24), forward O.G. Anunoby (3) and forward Chris Boucher during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (24) protects the ball from Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane (22) protects the ball from Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. (33) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) drives to the basket between Toronto Raptors center Christian Koloko (35) and guard Malachi Flynn (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) drives against Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby (3) dunks against the Memphis Grizzlies during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant dunks against the Toronto Raptors during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) dunks against the Toronto Raptors during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) drives to the basket past Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes (4) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) — Ja Morant had a career-high 17 assists and scored 19 points and the Memphis Grizzlies won for the first time in three games, beating the struggling Toronto Raptors 119-106 on Thursday night.

Dillon Brooks scored 25 points, Desmond Bane had 16 before fouling out and Steven Adams had 14 points and 17 rebounds. Memphis recorded a season-high 37 assists and won its third straight north of the border after losing its previous seven trips to Canada.

“It’s super impressive,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said about Morant’s 17 assists. “Tons of credit to Ja. It just sets a tone for us. His unselfishness, we talk about that all the time.”

Pascal Siakam had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto before fouling out, extending his career-best streak with 25 or more to six. Gary Trent Jr. scored 20 points and O.G. Anunoby had 16 as Toronto’s home losing streak reached five. The Raptors have lost eight of 10 overall.

“That’s pretty unacceptable with the effort we gave,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We’ve got to get focused and connected and get serious about playing harder.”

The Grizzlies came in having lost four of five, but beat Toronto by outscoring the Raptors 70-50 on points in the paint.

“If we’re clicking like this, a lot of teams can’t beat us,” Brooks said.

Morant shot 9 for 19 and had a pair of eye-popping dunks in his first career game in Toronto. He missed last season’s road game against the Raptors because of a sprained left knee, while the two previous meetings were played outside Canada because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cheered in the pre-game introductions, Morant drew gasps and cheers from the crowd with his only basket of the second quarter, using a pump fake to evade Anunoby at the 3-point line before exploding to the rim for a two-handed slam.

“I think they’ve been watching what’s all over the internet of him flying around, dunking on guys, putting on a show,” Brooks said of the welcome Morant received from Toronto fans. “They were ready to watch and he didn’t disappoint.”

Morant reached his assist mark by racking up seven in the third quarter.

“He’s able to get three, four guys on him and find us for 3s, find us for dump offs,” Brooks said. “He’s a one-in-a-generation talent.”

Siakam and Nurse got technical fouls after Siakam shoved Brooks following a defensive foul by Brooks late in the fourth.

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet was not available because of continued soreness in his lower back, the same injury that knocked him out a home loss to the Clippers on Tuesday night.

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Adams had eight rebounds in the first quarter. … Brooks was born and raised in nearby Mississauga. … Morant reached his previous high of 14 assists four times, most recently Nov. 27 at New York.

Raptors: Anunoby, Siakam, Barnes, Juancho Hernangomez and rookie Christian Koloko started, Toronto’s 18th different lineup in 35 games. … Shot 6 for 20 in the second quarter. … Following the game, Toronto waived F Justin Champagnie.

SHARE MORE, WIN MORE

Memphis is 13-1 this season when recording more assists than its opponent.

BAD START, BETTER FINISH

Toronto’s Scottie Barnes missed his first seven shot attempts and didn’t score in the first half but made seven of his final 11 attempts. He finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

“Just got to be more aggressive from the start,” Nurse said.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: Host New Orleans on Saturday night.

Raptors: Host Phoenix on Friday night.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak celebrates with teammate Pavel Zacha (18) after scoring a g...
Associated Press

Bruins rolling, rest of NHL making final push for playoffs

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Bruce Cassidy’s Vegas Golden Knights lost eight of 10 games going into the All-Star break after leading the Pacific Division at the midway point of the NHL season. They’re still safely in a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they can’t keep it up. “We’re still in a good position […]
1 day ago
FILE - Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt holds the Super Bowl trophy during a rally in Kansas Cit...
Associated Press

Chiefs’ Hunt, Eagles’ Lurie behind Super Bowl-winning teams

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Clark Hunt proudly held aloft the AFC championship trophy bearing his father’s name, the one signifying that his Kansas City Chiefs were headed back to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years, and reflected that not so long ago, success seemed elusive. It had been 50 years […]
1 day ago
Atlantic Division's Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (88) and Aleksander Barkov, of th...
Associated Press

Panthers hope All-Star weekend showcased team’s investment

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Matthew Tkachuk is under contract to the Florida Panthers for much of the next decade. So is fellow All-Star Aleksander Barkov. And right there are two compelling reasons for players to join the Panthers in the coming years. The last few days might have helped the recruiting pitch, too. Many of […]
1 day ago
FILE - North Texas football coach Todd Dodge, left, speaks to the media in Denton, Texas, Tuesday, ...
Associated Press

Mahomes, Hurts latest Texas prep QBs on Super Bowl stage

DALLAS (AP) — Texas high school quarterbacks guru Todd Dodge got what he wanted when Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts of Philadelphia won their conference championship games. “I really like Joe Burrow,” Dodge said with a chuckle in reference to Cincinnati’s star quarterback, “but I’m not going to root for Joe Burrow over […]
1 day ago
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, drives to the rim as Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongw...
Associated Press

Nuggets beat Hawks 128-108, tie Boston for NBA’s best record

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored a season-high 41 points, Nikola Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets won their third straight game, beating the Atlanta Hawks 128-108 on Saturday night. Jokic finished with 14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists and recorded the 94th regular-season triple-double of his career. […]
1 day ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors gu...
Associated Press

Curry injures left leg leading Warriors over Mavs 119-113

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry went down and the Golden Warriors once again had to fight like crazy to close out a game. Curry had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds before injuring his left leg defending a drive late in the third quarter, and the defending NBA champions defeated Dallas 119-113 on […]
1 day ago
Morant has career-high 17 assists, Grizzlies rout Raptors