The must-see action in the Grizzlies-Clippers game included the matchup of Memphis’ Ja Morant against defensive irritant Patrick Beverley of Los Angeles. (Photos: Karanja A. Ajanaku)
With one more chance for the Memphis Grizzlies to tie or take the lead, Jaren Jackson Jr.’s 3-point attempt from the right corner was blocked by Maurice Harkless, closing the door on the possibility of a Thanksgiving-eve victory over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
A fully engaged FedExForum crowd saw the Clippers’ Lou Williams miss a floater in the closing seconds, with Montrezl Harrell cleaning it up with a dunk to extend Los Angeles’ winning streak.
Harrell’s rebound basket with 2.3 seconds left gave the Clippers their seventh straight victory, 121-119 over the Grizzlies, who lost their fifth in a row.
Williams, who is from Memphis, said, “I expected to make the shot, but I’m so happy … that he (Harrell) was there for me.” The smooth-shooting Williams finished with 24 points and 13 assists.
Jonas Valanciunas had 30 points and 16 rebounds for Memphis, both season highs for the center. Jae Crowder and Ja Morant finished with 20 points each. Morant also had 11 assists.
Memphis, which trailed 92-88 entering the fourth, opened the final period on a 13-2 run. That gave the Grizzlies their biggest lead of the game at that point and led to Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers calling a timeout after Crowder converted his second 3-pointer from the top of the key.
“We were just playing with energy,” said Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who finished with 17 points.
“The bench came in and made a huge impact. Everyone was running in there and having fun again. The defense just led to the offense more.”
While Memphis’ lead reached 10 with just under 7 minutes left, the Clippers had a 15-5 run to tie at 113. The teams exchanged leads and the game was tied at 119 before Harrell’s winning basket.
“I just try to keep playing, keep executing, just keep fighting all the way through,” Harrell said. “That’s what it is all about, fighting all the way through to the very end. Leave it all out there. That’s all we can do.”
Harrell and Williams contributed to another strong bench performance from the Clippers, who lead the league with 51.7 points a game from their reserves. Harrell matched Williams with 24 while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Paul George added 22 points.
Playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road, Los Angeles forward Kawhi Leonard took the night off with “injury management” on his left knee.
Grizzlies: F Kyle Anderson, who was listed as questionable because of right heel soreness, did not play. … The Clippers held Morant to one shot and no points in the first half. The rookie scored 14 points in the fourth. … Memphis challenged an out-of-bounds call in the fourth giving the ball to the Clippers. After review, the call was overturned.
Clippers: Rodney McGruder started in Leonard’s spot, his second start of the season. McGruder would leave in the third quarter with a right lower leg injury. He did not return. … F Landry Shamet missed his ninth straight game with a high left ankle sprain.
Memphis rookie Brandon Clarke, the 21st overall pick from Gonzaga, was 5 of 8 from the field and has made 60 of 88 over his last 10 games, for 68 percent over the span. Clarke entered the game leading all rookies in shooting percentage for the season at 63.6 percent, which also ranks fifth overall.
“I just thought you let a team that hasn’t been winning hang around, they start to smell it. We talked about it before the game. Obviously, no one heard it.” — Clippers Coach Doc Rivers.
Grizzlies: Host Utah on Friday night.
Clippers: At San Antonio on Friday night.
(This story reflects a report by Clay Bailey of the Associated Press. More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports.)