Ja Morant scored 19 points and dished out 11 assists to lead seven Memphis players in double-figure scoring as the Grizzlies pulled away late for a 129-112 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday in the first of two games between the squads over a three-day period in the Alamo City.
The win was the sixth straight for Memphis, with 12 days between this victory and the most recent.
The contest was a classic case of the Grizzlies’ fresh legs — really fresh, in fact — versus San Antonio’s tired ones.
Memphis was playing a game for the first time since Jan. 18 after having five games postponed over the past two weeks because of COVID-19-created limited player availability. And the Spurs were playing the second of a home back-to-back after beating Denver on Friday.
Still, San Antonio cut an 18-point third-quarter Grizzlies’ lead to five, at 110-105, with 5:03 to play. That’s when fatigue and Memphis’ 3-point shooting took over, as back-to-back shots from beyond the arc by Dillon Brooks and Morant’s floating jumper produced an 8-0 run that allowed the Grizzlies to build enough of a cushion to waltz to the finish line.
De’Anthony Melton added a game-high 20 points for Memphis, with Kyle Anderson hitting for 16, Desmond Bane and Gorgui Dieng scoring 15 points apiece, and Brooks and Brandon Clarke tallying 14 each.
Derrick White, in his first action since missing 14 games with a broken toe, paced the Spurs with 18 points. Dejounte Murray had 15 points, LaMarcus Aldridge added 14, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV and Rudy Gay scored 12 points each, and Patty Mills racked up 10 for San Antonio, which had a three-game win streak snapped.
The Grizzlies showed little rust from their layoff, hitting eight of their first 10 shots while running out to a 35-27 lead after the first quarter.
Memphis expanded its advantage to as many as 11 points in the second quarter before settling for a 64-56 advantage at halftime. Anderson and Melton paced the Grizzlies with 11 points apiece in the half. Aldridge led the Spurs with 12 points over the first two periods.
The two teams play each other again on Monday in San Antonio.
–Field Level Media