US basketball

Ja Morant returns to Memphis bench as Grizzlies edge Mavericks

Ja Morant returns to Memphis bench as Grizzlies edge Mavericks

REFORMED? Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (2) embraces Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) after the game at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Embattled Memphis superstar Ja Morant returns to the bench for the first time since being suspended for gun-related activity as the Grizzlies squeak past the Dallas Mavericks

The Memphis Grizzlies trailed by 13 points at the end of three quarters but outscored Dallas 29-12 in the fourth to earn a hard-fought 112-108 home win over the Mavericks on Monday night (Tuesday, March 21, Manila time).

Jaren Jackson Jr. played most of the game in foul trouble but led Memphis (44-27) with 28 points, while Santi Aldama scored 22 points and grabbed a career-high 14 boards to earn his fourth double-double of the season. Desmond Bane added 17 points and six rebounds.

Memphis’ Tyus Jones had 16 points and six assists starting in place of Ja Morant (conditioning), who is expected to return to action Wednesday against the Houston Rockets.

Kyrie Irving led Dallas (36-36) with a team-high 28 points. He also added four rebounds and two blocks.

Christian Wood (20 points, nine rebounds, six assists) and Jaden Hardy (20 points, four assists) picked up the slack off the bench with Luka Doncic (thigh) out for a fifth consecutive game.

Starters Josh Green (12 points, three rebounds) and Reggie Bullock (seven points, three rebounds) also played well for the Mavericks.

Memphis held a 30-28 lead at the end of the first quarter behind 11 points from Jackson and six points from Bane. Dwight Powell picked up three quick fouls in the opening frame for Dallas, which was led by 11 points from Irving.

A flagrant foul by Jackson on Wood sparked a 6-0 Mavericks run and gave the visitors a 45-39 lead midway through the second quarter. A technical foul by Jackson and a 3-pointer by Reggie Bullock extended Dallas’ lead to 49-41 with 5:32 to play until halftime.

Dallas held on to lead 60-57 at the break behind 20 points from Irving. Jackson entered halftime with three fouls and a team-high 17 points for Memphis.

Jackson picked up his fourth and fifth fouls within a span of three seconds and he left the game with 7:10 left in the third. With Jackson out, the Mavericks outscored the Grizzlies 22-16 the remainder of the quarter and took a 96-83 lead into the final frame. –

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