NBA regular season

Ja Morant late push lifts Grizzlies over Victor Wembanyama, Spurs


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Ja Morant late push lifts Grizzlies over Victor Wembanyama, Spurs

Jan 2, 2024; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) dunks over San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) during the second half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

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Ja Morant scored 26 points, 13 of them in the fourth quarter, and dished out 10 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies ruled the final 20 minutes en route to a 106-98 win over the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday (Wednesday, January 3, Manila time).

The Grizzlies snapped a three-game losing streak while San Antonio dropped its third straight contest.

Memphis led by seven points at halftime but gave back that margin and more early in the third quarter.

A decisive run by the Grizzlies over a six-minute span in the middle of the third allowed them to carry a 12-point advantage into the fourth quarter, and they never again allowed San Antonio to get closer than eight points.

Desmond Bane added 24 points for Memphis, with Santi Aldama racking up 13 points and 11 rebounds, Luke Kennard scoring 12 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. hitting for 10.

Victor Wembanyama led the Spurs with 20 points. Keldon Johnson had 19 off the bench, Julian Champagnie and Jeremy Sochan scored 12 each, Devin Vassell hit for 11 points and Blake Wesley added 10.

Jackson’s turnaround hook with 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter tied the score at 20 before Sandro Mamukelashvili hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to grant the Spurs a 23-20 edge through 12 minutes of play.

The Grizzlies leapfrogged to the front on Derrick Rose’s jumper a minute into the second quarter and pushed their advantage to 33-28 on Vince Williams Jr.’s 3-pointer with 7:43 remaining in the half.

The Spurs responded, drawing even on Wesley’s dunk five minutes later. Memphis then scored 10 straight points, capped by Morant’s jumper with 45 seconds left in the half before Johnson’s 3-pointer sliced the deficit to 47-40 entering the break.

Bane led all scorers before halftime with 12 points while Morant had 11 for Memphis. Wembanyama paced the Spurs with 11 points before intermission.

Wembanyama’s banked 3-pointer with 9:22 to play in the third quarter pushed the Spurs back to the front at 51-50. Two free throws by Jackson later in the period punctuated an 8-2 run for Memphis that re-established a 10-point advantage.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 16 before settling for an 80-68 edge heading into the final period.

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