With Memphis’ main man, Ja Morant, out for a second straight game, Memphis got what it needed from Jaren Jackson Jr., Tyus Jones and a cast of determined Grizzlies to beat the San Antonio Spurs and push their winning streak to a season-high seven games.
In the first of back-to-back games against the Spurs at FedExForum, the Grizzlies (27-13) won 121-113 and held on to a share of the lead in the Western Conference.
Subbing for Morant (thigh soreness), Jones finished with 24 points and 6 assists. Jackson, who has been on a tear on the defensive, recorded five blocks for the second straight gun and now has 79 for the season.
“He has had so many good stretches of protecting the rim,” said Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins, responding to whether this is Jackson’s best defensive stretch. “He had two blocks on one possession. I am very impressed with what he does. He sets the tone defensively. It is definitely a great stretch.”
Memphis’ power forward missed the first 16 games of the season and is a few games short to be considered for block leaders in the NBA. He is averaging 3.8 blocks per game and has had multiple blocks in 11 straight outings.
The Grizzlies used the same formula employed to defeat the Utah Jazz on Sunday: build a nice lead and work from there. They built separation (35-25) in the first quarter and lead by 11 points (72-61) at the end of the first half. Jackson had four blocks at the half.
In the third quarter, the Spurs (17-24) battled back, trimming the Grizzlies’ lead to three points (94-91) with 51 seconds left. Memphis was up by five (97-92) going into the fourth.
Determined, the Spurs pulled ahead by five (103-98) before the Grizzlies’ depth and experience enabled them to regain the lead (111-109) with 5:09 left in the game. They did not trail again.
Memphis had seven players score in double figures. Desmond Bane connected on three of five shots from three-point range to finish with 15 points. Jackson had 16 points and 6 rebounds. Center Steven Adams returned to the lineup and had 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Others in double figures: Dillion Brooks, 15 points; Santi Aldama, 13 points, and Zaire Williams had 11 points both off the bench.
Memphis outrebounded the Spurs 50-42. The Grizzlies also had 26 assists.
“We were able to find some renewed energy,” Jenkins said. “Their bench got them going early. We just stayed the course. It is our third straight back-to-back, but no excuses. Our guys found a way.”
The Spurs were led by Tre Jones, the younger brother of Tyus Jones, with 18 points and seven assists. Josh Richardson had 16 points, five rebounds and five assists off the bench. Jakob Poetle and Romeo Langford each had 13 points.
Memphis will face San Antonio again on Wednesday night (Jan. 11), with tipoff set for 7 p.m. Morant did go through his pre-game workout and may be in the lineup on Wednesday.
The Grizzlies remained tied with the Denver Nuggets for the top spot in the Western Conference.