MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)Desmond Bane had 24 points and nine assists, Tyus Jones added 21 points and the Memphis Grizzlies, playing without leading scorer Ja Morant, defeated the Utah Jazz 123-118 on Sunday.
Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and five blocks as Morant was a late scratch with right thigh soreness. That led to Jones running the first unit for Memphis. Jones also had six assists as Memphis won its sixth straight.
”It’s just next man up. Be ready when your name is called,” Jones said of filling in for Morant. ”Being ready for your opportunity. No excuses. Just play ball.”
Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 21 points, while Kelly Olynyk added 19 points. Each also had eight rebounds. Jordan Clarkson had 17 points before he was ejected late in the third quarter, and Malik Beasley added 15 points. Rookie Walker Kessler finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.
In addition to Morant, Memphis was without center Steven Adams, sidelined with a non-COVID illness. That took the Grizzlies’ leading scorer and top rebounder off the floor.
For Bane, it was a continuation of trying to get back in shape after missing 17 games with a right big toe sprain. The win was his seventh game back, and he estimates he has a few more before his cardio is where he wants it.
”I’m getting there slowly but surely,” said Bane, who was 4 of 7 from 3-point range. ”I’m still a little ways away. But I mean, the feel, the rhythm, I think it’s starting to come.”
There were times when the Jazz made a run, cutting into the Grizzlies’ lead, which reached 16 points early in the third quarter, but settled into single digits late. Utah just didn’t seem to have that late push to overcome the Memphis advantage.
”There were a few possessions where we had our chances,” said guard Mike Conley, who finished with seven points and eight assists. ”We just turned it over and gave them easy opportunities in transition.”
Utah has struggled of late, losing seven of eight.
A 43-point second quarter gave the Grizzlies a 66-52 lead at the half. Despite shooting 51% in the first periods, Utah was hampered by a dozen turnovers.
Things got testy late in the third quarter when Clarkson was called for a Flagrant 2 against Bane, leading to Clarkson’s ejection. That contributed to Memphis carrying a 98-90 lead. As Clarkson left the court, he raised his arms encouraging the Memphis fans to continue their boos.
For Utah, the loss is the latest in dealing with the ebbs and flows of the season. Utah played well early, but the road has been difficult lately.
”We have a long view with our team right now in terms of there’s 39 games to go,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. ”Losing hurts in the moment, but we have to maintain our approach and try to control what we can control.”
Jazz: Defeated Memphis twice in a two-game set in Salt Lake City in October. … Kessler, the 22nd pick in the 2022 draft, already matched his career high with five blocks in the first quarter. … G Collin Sexton missed his fourth game with hamstring injury maintenance. … Talen Horton-Tucker, who scored 12 points in Saturday’s loss to Chicago, sat out with a right ankle sprain.
Grizzlies: Are now 6-0 on the opening night of a back-to-back. … F Brandon Clarke missed his fourth game with left hip soreness. … Jackson Jr. has multiple blocks in 10 straight games and 13 of his last 15. … Bane made his 400th career 3-pointer in the first quarter. …Are 16-3 at home this season.
Jazz: Host Cleveland on Tuesday.
Grizzlies: Host San Antonio on Monday.
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