Down by a dozen to Minnesota with six-plus minutes to go, the Memphis Grizzlies looked a loss in the face and then did an about face on the way to a 125-118 overtime win at FedExForum on Monday night.
“We talked about the winning mentality at the beginning of the year,” said Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins. “We did not get off to the start we wanted in the first quarter, but we kept chipping away at it. … the positive vibes throughout. The guys knew we had more to give.”
Ja Morant, who just keeps on giving so far in the young season, was a monster in big moments. He finished with 33 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Brandon Clarke, who has been out of the regular rotation lately, roared off the bench with 20 points, 9 rebounds and relentless energy. De’Anthony Melton engineered 19 points, connecting on 3 of 6 shots from three-point territory.
Minnesota got huge games from D’Angelo Russell (30 points) and Karl Anthony Towns, who grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 25 points, including an improbable, off-the-glass three-pointer that forced overtime after the Grizzlies dug out of the double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit.
“We fought to the end,” said Morant, who told reporters post-game that he was “ready to get in the bed. … KAT (Karl Anthony Towns) hit a big shot. At that point, it is zero-zero. We had to bring the energy when the ball went up again. We did and we got the win.”
Minnesota (3-6) entered the game on a four-game losing streak. Memphis (6-4) got off to a clumsy start, falling behind 17-5 in the first five minutes. A 21-7 run put the Grizzlies ahead by a basket and the game was tied at 34 at the end of the first quarter.
Neither team mustered much on offense in the second quarter. With the Grizzlies getting a boost from its bench, Memphis took a four-point lead (58-54) into halftime.
Memphis ran into problems with its transition defense in the third quarter, allowing a 12-2 run that powered Minnesota to a 74-73 lead with 5:18 remaining in the frame. Memphis was down 92-81 at the end of the quarter.
With the deficit at a dozen with 6:22 remaining in regulation, Memphis mounted a furious charge, tying the game at 108 with 56 seconds to go on an electrifying dunk by Morant. He followed that with a three pointer with 32 seconds left. When Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels made two free throws with 24 seconds left, Memphis lead by a point (111-110).
Anyone who left the arena or turned off their television/radio at that point missed a wild ending. A block by Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. was called a goaltending, but it was overruled after review. That set up a jump ball at center court. Jackson hit the ball out of bounds, giving the possession to Minnesota’s Timberwolves but they were not able to get the ball inbounds within the allotted time.
Memphis got the ball on the turnover with 3.9 seconds left in the game. Morant, fouled with 2.5 seconds left, made two free throws to make it 113-110. With 1.1 second remaining, Towns hit a SportsCenter heave that forced overtime.
“We play a lot of games, and we see a lot of things,” said Jackson. “When he shot it and made it, we just said credit to you. Right after that we say it is over and get right to overtime.”
Overtime belonged to Memphis, with the Grizzlies outscoring the Timberwolves 12-5.
Notes and quotes
- Memphis will be back at the FedExForum on Wednesday (Nov. 10) when the Grizzlies host the Charlotte Hornets at 7 p.m.
- Brandon Clarke talked about the challenge of having not been part of the rotation. “I am glad coach had trust in me,” he said. “I have been working on my game every day. I have been ready every game. It is me just bringing my energy. … I learned from last year not to get too down. I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t down. I was always putting in my work. When given my chance I was going to make the best of it.”