Grizzlies, led by sizzling Ja Morant, back home to play Spurs

Grizzlies, led by sizzling Ja Morant, back home to play Spurs

Ja Morant will aim to follow a record-setting performance with an impressive encore Monday night when the Memphis Grizzlies host the San Antonio Spurs.

Morant scored a franchise regular-season-record 46 points in the Grizzlies’ 116-110 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. His point total eclipsed the previous record of 45 set by Mike Miller in 2007, although it fell one shy of the overall franchise mark when Morant scored 47 in a playoff game against the Utah Jazz last season.

Morant’s franchise-record 16th consecutive game with at least 20 points also helped halt Memphis’ modest two-game slide. Morant scored 44 points in the Grizzlies’ 123-119 setback against Portland on Feb. 16 and added 20 in a 119-114 defeat vs. Minnesota on Thursday.

“Very important, not letting last game carry over into this one,” Morant said of his motivation. “We were very focused and locked in. Our goal was to get a win and carry this momentum back to our home court.”

Morant reached the 40-point plateau on five occasions this season, including a 41-point, eight-assist performance in Memphis’ 118-110 victory at San Antonio on Jan. 26. His 30-point, eight-assist effort in a 118-105 win over the Spurs on New Year’s Eve wasn’t shabby, either.

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“I’ve seen too many of them. Kinda boring now,” Grizzlies center Steven Adams joked of Morant’s highlight-reel performance. “He’s such an amazing player.”

Adams fared well in his own right after collecting 12 points and a season-high 21 rebounds on Saturday.

Memphis is returning home on a positive note, and San Antonio will look for momentum Monday as it reaches the final stop of an eight-game trip.

The Spurs fell to 4-3 on the trek with a 133-129 setback to Miami on Saturday. The defeat kept Gregg Popovich at 1,334 coaching wins, one win shy of tying Hall of Famer Don Nelson’s NBA record for regular-season victories.

“Being in this position is awkward, surreal, unexpected, never planned and all of the above,” Popovich said. “It’s the best way to describe it.”

Spurs All-Star Dejounte Murray sat out with a bruised left knee Saturday, one day after recording 31 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds in San Antonio’s 157-153 double-overtime victory at Washington.

Murray also notched a triple-double in the previous encounter vs. the Grizzlies, chipping in 16, 11 and 10, respectively. He averages team-leading totals in points (20.1), assists (9.4) and steals (2.0).

The Spurs on Saturday also played without Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl due to back injuries. Johnson is averaging 16.0 points and 6.0 rebounds, while Poeltl contributes 13.4 points to go along with club-best averages in rebounds (9.2) and blocks (1.8).

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Devin Vassell scored a career-high 22 points Saturday, and Lonnie Walker IV and Keita Bates-Diop matched that total in the loss.

“We just kept on playing,” Popovich said. “That’s the character of these guys. It’s probably the most special thing about them — young group that keeps on playing. Very, very proud of them.”

–Field Level Media

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