NBA regular season

Ja Morant unleashes 49 as Grizzlies turn back Rockets

Ja Morant unleashes 49 as Grizzlies turn back Rockets

NEXT GEN. Grizzlies guard Ja Morant dribbles past Rockets counterpart Jalen Green.

Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The young guns put on a show as Memphis’ Ja Morant erupts for 49 points while Houston’s Jalen Green answers with 33

Ja Morant unloaded a game-high 49 points and steered the visiting Memphis Grizzlies to a 129-122 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night, October 21 (Saturday, October 22, Manila time).

Morant torched the Rockets on mid-range jumpers and forays to the rim off pick-and-rolls, from behind the three-point arc and in transition. He finished 5-for-6 on three-point attempts, his lone miss coming late in the fourth quarter on a heave against an expiring shot clock.

Morant, who fell 3 points shy of his career high, added a game-high 8 assists and 2 blocked shots, both coming in the fourth quarter as the Rockets kept things close.

It was a Morant assist on a Desmond Bane trey that provided Memphis an 80-79 lead which erased what was once a 16-point deficit. 

But Morant did his damage by scoring in the third, pouring in 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting in the period. When he returned from his final stretch of rest in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies led 111-110 with 7:41 remaining. 

Morant followed by scoring 7 points and assisting on a John Konchar trey that extended the lead to 123-113.

Jalen Green led the Rockets with 33 points while Kevin Porter Jr. added 18 points and 4 assists. Alperen Sengun produced a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.

Morant was the driving force throughout. The Grizzlies led 17-13 when he took a seat at the 4:59 mark of the first quarter and the Rockets later responded to his absence with a 17-0 run that bridged the first and second periods. 

Green and Porter were integral in helping Houston carve a six-point advantage entering the second and when Eric Gordon sank a pair of free throws with 9:51 remaining in the half, the Rockets extended to their largest lead of the contest at 42-26.

When Morant returned midway through the second quarter, he steered the Grizzlies back into contention. Whether penetrating the Houston defense with his probing off high screens or by feeding Jake LaRavia (12 points) and Konchar for open three-pointers, Morant proved unstoppable.

Still, the Rockets extended their lead to 8 points by the break with Green posting 20 first-half points and Sengun pairing 13 points with 6 rebounds prior to the intermission. But when Morant exploded in the third quarter, the Rockets could do little to keep grasp of the momentum. –

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