NBA regular season

Ja Morant hits winner in return as Grizzlies down Pelicans

Reuters

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Ja Morant hits winner in return as Grizzlies down Pelicans

WELCOME BACK. Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, center, is mobbed by teammates Jacob Gilyard, left, and Ziaire Williams, after scoring the winning basket to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center.

Matthew Hinton/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Ja Morant returns triumphantly for the Grizzlies after serving a 25-game suspension for holding a gun during a livestream video

Ja Morant made a triumphant season debut with 34 points, capped by a game-winning, buzzer-beating layup, as the visiting Memphis Grizzlies rallied to beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 115-113, on Tuesday, December 19 (Wednesday, December 20, Manila time).

Memphis battled back from a 24-point, first-half deficit and took its first lead since the second quarter when Morant’s basket capped a 9-1 run and put the Grizzlies ahead 111-109 with 1:22 remaining in the game.

Memphis took a timeout with the score tied at 113-113 and 10 seconds left to set up a play for Morant, who drove to the basket and hit an off-balance jumper to end the Pelicans’ four-game winning streak.

Morant, who scored 27 points in the second half, added 6 rebounds and 8 assists in his return to the Grizzlies’ lineup after serving a 25-game suspension for holding a gun during a livestream video last spring.

Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 24 points and Desmond Bane added 21 for Memphis, which snapped a five-game losing streak. Vince Williams Jr. chipped in 9 points and 7 rebounds.

Brandon Ingram led New Orleans with 34 points. Jonas Valanciunas had 22 points and 14 rebounds, CJ McCollum scored 18 points, and Zion Williamson had 13.

Morant scored 3 points in eight minutes to help put the Grizzlies ahead 25-21 at the end of the first quarter.

New Orleans trailed by a point early in the second quarter before moving ahead 53-31 after holding the Grizzlies scoreless for nearly six minutes during a 23-0 run.

The Pelicans outscored Memphis 39-16 in the second quarter and took a 60-41 lead into the break. McCollum led New Orleans with 15 points, while Ingram and Valanciunas had 12 apiece,

Morant sparked the Grizzlies’ comeback with 13 points in the third quarter, including a layup with 30 seconds left to cut the deficit to 85-77.

Trailing by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, Memphis pulled within 96-92 with 7:50 remaining when Xavier Tillman’s three-pointer capped a 10-0 run. – Rappler.com

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