LOS ANGELES (NWN) – Ja Morant topped five double-digit starts with 28 points and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-114 in their home opening Saturday night.
Morant burned Cleveland with 37 points – second in franchise history in season one – in a Grizzlies win with 11 points. He came back strong to kick off a four-game West Coast trip in which the Grizzlies face three playoff teams from last season.
The Clippers tied two points twice in the 1:14 basket final for Paul George, who finished with 41 points – seven less than his all-time high – and 10 rebounds.
But Jaren Jackson Jr. responded with three-pointers, which put the Grizzlies ahead of 119-114 with 17 seconds left.
“You can hear how the crowd just feels bad,” Jackson said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said: “Jah destroyed the defense and then knocked out and entrusted his teammate with a big shot. This is to set an example. “
George conceded a 25-foot goal and Luke Kennard fouled Desmond Bane on 1 of 2 free throws. George missed again from the left when the Clippers dropped to 0-2 at the start of the season.
“I’m glad we fought, but we can’t be like that, just be happy that we played hard,” said George. “It’s a matter of course to play hard. We have to win games. “
De’Anthony Melton added 22 points, Jackson 21 points, Bane 19 points and Stephen Adams 17 points and nine rebounds for the Grizzlies.
“It was good to close, especially on the road,” Jackson said.
Reggie Jackson added 17 points to the Clippers.
Memphis overtook the Clippers 30-11 to enter third and go 89-73 ahead after falling behind most of the first half. Morant and Adams each scored nine points, while Melton and Bane hit three in a row.
“He’s just explosive. He’s so good and so fast, ”George said of Morant. “He made it difficult for us, he put a lot of pressure on us.”
The Clippers finished 14-8, including consecutive three-pointers from George, and trails 97-89 moved up to fourth.
“They got together in the zone, physically, caught and did everything to get us out of our rhythm, but we did some important games,” Jenkins said.
Grizzlies: Zier Williams, 10th overall pick in the NBA Draft, finished with six points, two rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes.
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard, dressed in streetwear, sat on a bench next to the coaches. He is recovering from surgery in July for a partial rupture of the right cruciate ligament. … Lost to Golden State by three at the opening of the season.
The Grizzlies: Play the Lakers on Sunday on their longest four-game tour of the season.
Clippers: Host Portland at the center of a three-game home game on Monday.
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