Ja Morant lit a fire under Memphis’ offense delivering a triple-double as the red-hot Grizzlies rolled over the Utah Jazz 119-109 on Friday night. Morant finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Grizzlies, who have won 15 of their last 18 contests. The third-year point guard is averaging 35.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists over his past five games.
“I think the win was more important, but I guess the triple-double was needed to get the win,” said Morant, who was named an all-star starter on Thursday. “All in all, it was a good night.” He was coming off one of his best games of the season on Wednesday, when he scored a season-high 41 points in a win over San Antonio. He shot just under 50 percent from the field (10-of-22) after having shot 50 percent or better six times this month. Brandon Clarke finished with 22 points for the Grizzlies. Jaren Jackson Jr chipped in 18 points, and Desmond Bane added 17.
Stopping Morant proved to be an almost impossible task for the Jazz who were missing Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell missed his sixth straight game because of a concussion. Gobert missed his third consecutive contest because of a calf strain. Danuel House scored a season-high 21 points to lead the Jazz, who have lost four straight games. Mike Conley added 15 points and six assists, and Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 13 points apiece.
“We’re playing with a much more urgent mindset,” Conley said. “Playing harder. Guys are giving everything we’ve got with who we’ve got out there. At some point, we’re going to break through. Things are going to start falling our way. “We feel like we are getting closer and closer to being back to who we are.” In Arizona, Chris Paul collected 21 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns won their ninth straight game by holding on to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-124.
Devin Booker led all scorers with 29 points to go along with nine assists for the Suns. Cameron Johnson made five three-pointers en route to a 23-point performance. Anthony Edwards scored 27 points and dished out 10 assists for the Timberwolves, who lost for the second time in as many nights. Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 23 points and nine rebounds, and Malik Beasley came off the bench to score 26 points. Minnesota were behind by 12 points in the third quarter but cut the deficit to four points, 112-108, with just under seven minutes left in regulation.
The Suns answered with a 14-5 run to go up by 13 with 4:11 left and never looked back. Meanwhile, Nikola Jokic had a triple-double as the Denver Nuggets won their fourth game in a row by defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 116-105. Jokic finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists as the Nuggets improved to 3-0 on a six-game road trip. Aaron Gordon scored 20 points, Bryn Forbes added 14, Monte Morris had 13, Austin Rivers 12 and Zeke Nnaji 11 for Denver, who have won nine of its last 12 games. In Charlotte, Miles Bridges scored 26 points and Ish Smith had 22 points as the Charlotte Hornets held off the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers 117-114. The Lakers played without LeBron James, who missed a game for the second night in a row with a sore knee, and Anthony Davis.- AFP