MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)Rookie Ja Morant is drawing the accolades for the Memphis Grizzlies. Fellow first-round pick Brandon Clarke is showing his value as well.
Clarke, who leads the league’s rookies in field goal percentage at 65%, scored a season-high 25 points, converting 11 of 14 shots and the Grizzlies sent Washington to its fourth straight loss, beating the Wizards 128-111 on Saturday night.
While Dillon Brooks led Memphis with 27 points, Clarke continued his accurate shooting touch, including making his only 3-point attempt. Clarke’s play has been rewarding for Memphis. The 6-foot-8 forward from Gonzaga appeared undervalued on draft night last summer, dropping to 21st before Oklahoma City drafted Clarke and the Grizzlies immediately traded for him.
”Whoever passed up, messed up,” said Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who had 16 points.
”He’s definitely a Top 10 pick, if you’re re-drafting this,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said.
Clarke said the secret to his accuracy is built on work, particularly from 3-point range where he is 13 of 25 this season.
”Hard work and getting the reps and being comfortable shooting in the game,” Clarke said. ”It took time in our practice, but now it feels really comfortable to shoot that wide-open 3.”
Morant added 18 points to help the Grizzlies win for the third time in the last four. Memphis would set a season-high with points in the paint (70), and Clarke’s 25 points helped the Grizzlies establish a season-standard for bench points with 59.
”That’s been a problem,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of the points in the paint. ”I told our guys, I know we are short-handed, but we still have to be able to scrap. We did not scrap. enough.”
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 29 points, but was 8 of 23 from the field. Troy Brown Jr. had 16 points, while Ish Smith and rookie Admiral Schofield scored 14 each for Washington.
Memphis built its lead late in the first half and then extended it to 21 early in the third. Solomon Hill, who was scoreless in the first half, converted all four of his 3-point shots in the third, as Memphis led 104-84 entering the final frame.
The Grizzlies would stretch the advantage to 24 in the fourth.
”We haven’t lost like this in a long time,” Beal said.
Wizards: C Moritz Wagner was out with a left ankle sprain. With Wagner out and Thomas Bryant suffering from a stress reaction in his right foot, little-used Ian Mahinmi was the only true center available and started. …Beal had 10 rebounds to record his sixth double-double of the season.
Grizzlies: F Jae Crowder did not play, suffering from left ankle soreness. … The victory snapped a seven-game home losing streak. … Memphis is 7-0 when Brooks scores at least 20. .The 17-point victory matched the largest over the Wizards in franchise history. The other 17-point win in the series was four years ago on Dec. 14, 2015
Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura and Grizzlies two-way player Yuta Watanabe were on the court at the same time in the second quarter, marking the first time in an NBA regular-season game that two Japanese-born players appeared in the same game.
TOUGH NIGHT FOR BERTANS
Davis Bertans who had 32 points in Tuesday’s game at Charlotte, was held to nine points. He had reached double figures in 12 of his previous 13 games. Against Memphis, he was 2 of 9 from the field and made only one of his six 3-point shots. ”It’s bound to happened,” Brooks said. ”The guy has been on fire. He’s been knocking down everything once he has stepped on the court. … He will bounce back.”
THOMAS CLOSE TO RETURN
Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas, who was listed as questionable before the game, did not play, missing his fifth straight with a left calf strain. Thomas was a game-time decision. ”He’s getting better, and that’s the good thing,” Brooks said of the decision to sit Thomas another game. ”He had a good workout (Saturday). It was close. He wanted to go once again, but that’s the way he is. We just have to be careful.”
Wizards: At Detroit on Monday night.
Grizzlies: Host Miami on Monday night.
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