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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Rulers of their home court against Lakers, Grizzlies pick up road win in Houston

One night after raising the bar on his on-court stardom with a 28-point third quarter against the Lakers, Ja Morant sat out the entire fourth quarter in Houston as the Grizzlies zoomed past the Rockets (113-99).

With 20 points, Morant was not nearly as dominant Wednesday night against Houston as he was during his 39-point triple-double (10 rebounds, 10 assists) outburst against LA at FedExForum. Still, he added 7 assists and 7 rebounds.

Backcourt mate Desmond Bane, who scored 16 points in the Grizzlies’ 121-109 win over the Lakers, showed his shooting touch in scoring 30 points against the Rockets. Bane, who also had nine rebounds and six assists, made six of the team’s 17 3-pointers. Dillon Brooks added four and finished with 16 points. Jaren Jackson Jr. had 17 points and five blocks.

Desmond Bane followed a 16-point performance against the Lakers with a 30-point night against the Rockets. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

With an 8-1 spurt, the Grizzlies (38-23) grew their lead to 98-74 with nine minutes to go. Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins took most of his starters out soon after that with the game out of hand.

Jaren Jackson Jr. had 17 points and five blocks.

L.A.’s Anthony Davis had 28 points and 19 rebounds against the Grizzlies but didn’t get these two as Jaren Jackson Jr. rejects his shot in the paint. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Pleased with the team’s energy and mentality against the Lakers, Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins said afterward, “Now we’re about to go on the road and we’ve got to take on just a harder mentality, swag, trust, discipline, belief, each and every day. I’m just really proud of the effort that we’ve shown the last three games. Obviously, we got two wins, two at home. But the real test is on the road and our guys understand that.”

With the road win against Houston, Memphis still has a sub .500 (12-18) record on the road this season. The game against the Rockets was the first of a four-game road test. Next comes Denver on Friday followed by games against the Clippers and Lakers in Los Angeles.

The Lakers could not stop Ja Morant from ruling the paint. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

“We just have to keep it up and be more consistent, more disciplined, being locked in,” said Morant after the win over the Lakers. “When we play like that, we know we’re a very good team and a hard team to beat, clicking on all cylinders on both ends of the floor. That’s what we need.”

Xavier Tillman, who continues to start in place of injured center Steven Adams, had four points, five rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes against the Rockets. Against the Lakers and having to contend with Anthony Davis, who had 28 points and 19 rebounds in the losing effort, Tillman had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Some say this is the best stretch of his professional career.

Xavier Tillman has given the Grizzlies a consistent force from the center position in the absence of Steven Adams. (Photo: Warren Roseborugh/The New Tri-State Defender)

“I am having fun just enjoying every moment,” said Tillman. “I am not thinking too deep about it. It has been fun.”

Note: Friday’s game in Denver pits the teams with the two best records in the Western Conference. The Nuggets (44-19) lead the Grizzlies by five games. Tipoff in Ball Arena is set for 9 p.m. CST.

(This story reflects reports by the TSD Newsroom, TSD sports columnist Terry Davis and the Associated Press.)

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