Morant has 32, Grizzlies use late burst to defeat Pelicans

Dec 31, 2022, 6:04 AM | Updated: 9:18 pm

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots while defended by Memphis Grizzlies guard D...

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots while defended by Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks (24) and center Steven Adams (4) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)

(AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant had 32 points and eight assists, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 17 points and six blocks, and the Memphis Grizzlies broke open the game in the fourth quarter for a 116-101 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.

Desmond Bane finished with 18 points and Steven Adams had 10 points and a season-high 21 rebounds as the Grizzlies won their second straight.

The Grizzlies outscored the Pelicans 33-22 in the fourth to pull away, beginning the period with a 19-4 spurt.

“We just kind of strung a cycle together. Score, stop. Score, stop, where we were disciplined in our 1-on-1 defense,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We forced some tough shots and didn’t give them a second life.”

Zion Williamson scored 20 points for the Pelicans, while Trey Murphy III added 15. CJ McCollum, who scored 42 points and made a franchise-record 11 3-pointers in Friday’s win over Philadelphia, had 10 points and was 1 of 7 from outside the arc.

That Grizzlies forced 20 turnovers, leading to 23 points. That included 14 steals, three each by Jackson and John Konchar.

“It’s great,” Morant said of the steals. “It allows us to get out and run. Live-ball turnovers are something you don’t want to give up, especially to a team like us.”

The game remained close until Memphis opened the fourth quarter with seven straight points for a double-digit advantage. The Grizzlies would eventually build the lead to 20 as Brandon Clarke and Jackson scored inside.

The Pelicans were playing their third game in four nights. While New Orleans coach Willie Green acknowledged that could have led to a fourth-quarter collapse, he avoided using that as an excuse. The win ran Memphis’ home record to 14-3

“Give the Grizzlies their credit,” Green said. “They take care of business on their home floor. I thought they were the more physical team, and they were a step ahead of us.”

New Orleans entered the game tied with Denver for the top spot in the Western Conference, while Memphis was 1 1/2 games behind in third place.

Despite a rough-shooting first half and foul trouble for Williamson, the Pelicans were able to keep things close and trailed 53-50 at the break. Neither team would take their lead to double digits after the early stages of the second quarter.

“Definitely a wonky basketball game,” Jenkins said. “Back and forth at times, but we found a way to win.”

Memphis led 83-79 after three quarters.

“Funky game for us,” Green said.


Pelicans: Murphy, who was listed as questionable with a right ankle sprain, started. … C Jaxson Hayes hit a 27-footer as time expired in the first quarter. …Williamson has reached double figures in all but one game he has played this season. …McCollum has reached double figures in his last 11 game, including surpassing 20 points, seven times.

Grizzlies: F Santi Aldama, who injured his left ankle in Thursday’s win over Toronto, was out. … Adams grabbed his 3,100th defensive rebound in the second quarter. …Made only 4 of 22 3-pointers in the first half. …Jackson has six straight games with multiple blocks.


The game was delayed about 12 minutes in the middle of the second quarter due to a clock malfunction that left the shot clocks at over both baskets blank. After the delay, the shot clock time was kept by the 24-second operator and called out by the public address announcer. The clocks were back in operation before halftime. “It definitely threw us off a little bit,” Jenkins said.


Pelicans: At Philadelphia on Monday.

Grizzlies: Host Sacramento on Sunday.


More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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Morant has 32, Grizzlies use late burst to defeat Pelicans