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Ja Morant’s return sparks Grizzlies to blowout of Pelicans

Apr 9, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) goes for a lay-up while New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) looks on during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Christine Tannous-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Christine Tannous-USA TODAY Sports

Ja Morant returned from an nine-game absence and the host Memphis Grizzlies had a record scoring quarter in a 141-114 rout of the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

Morant, who had been sidelined due to a sore right knee, scored 21 points and dished out nine assists in 27 minutes.

The Grizzlies produced the highest-scoring quarter in franchise history when they outscored the Pelicans 55-33 in the third quarter to take a 119-80 lead. It was the fourth-highest-scoring quarter for any NBA team since 1955.

Dillon Brooks scored 23 points, Brandon Clarke added 20, Ziaire Williams had 19, Desmond Bane had 18 and De’Anthony Melton and Jaren Jackson Jr. put up 12 each for Memphis (56-25), which made 18 of 35 3-point attempts and tied the franchise record for victories in a season.

The Grizzlies, locked into the second seed in the Western Conference, can break the record by beating the visiting Boston Celtics in the regular-season finale on Sunday.

Memphis won the season series with New Orleans 3-1, averaging 131.3 points in the three victories.

CJ McCollum scored 16 points, Willy Hernangomez had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Jaxson Hayes scored 13 and Jose Alvarado and Jared Harper added 12 points each for the Pelicans, who made 6 of 30 long-range shots.

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram missed his second consecutive game because of hamstring tightness. Ninth-place New Orleans (36-45) is set to host the 10th-place San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference play-in tournament on Wednesday.

The Grizzlies began their third-quarter scoring with a three-point play by Morant and a 3-pointer by Bane as they built a 75-49 lead. Memphis kept pouring it on before emptying the bench early in the fourth quarter.

Williams made consecutive 3-pointers to start a 10-3 run that gave the Grizzlies a 30-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Alvarado made a basket to start the second-quarter scoring, but Williams sank two 3-pointers and Bane made one as Memphis expanded the lead to 43-26.

New Orleans scored the next four points and got as close as 11 points on three occasions. However, the Grizzlies rebuilt the lead to 17 points twice more, including a 64-47 halftime lead.

Memphis made 8 of 15 3-pointers before halftime while New Orleans was 1 of 15.

–Field Level Media