Morant returns, Jackson helps Grizzlies clinch division

March 23, 2023 GMT
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Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball against Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball against Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant had 17 points and five assists in his return from an NBA suspension, and Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with a season-high 37 points and 10 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Houston Rockets 130-125 on Wednesday night.

Desmond Bane had 20 points and Tyus Jones scored 14 for the Grizzlies, with each adding seven assists. Memphis clinched the Southwest Division title for a second consecutive season.

Jalen Green had 32 points to lead the Rockets, while Kenyon Martin Jr. scored 31. Kevin Porter had his second career triple-double and first of the season with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Alperen Sengun scored 25 for Houston.

Morant, who did not start, was back in action after missing nine games — eight because of a league-imposed suspension after a live stream from a Denver-area strip club earlier this month showed Morant briefly waving a firearm. Morant underwent counseling at a Florida facility for stress relief during the ban.

The two-time All-Star guard, who entered with 3:05 left in the first quarter, ended up playing 24 minutes and shot 6 for 13 overall. He also had four rebounds.


DALLAS (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 20 points and assisted on Draymond Green’s tiebreaking three-point play late, and Golden State beat Dallas in a game with considerable playoff implications.

Luka Doncic had 30 points after missing five games with a left thigh strain, but the Mavericks dropped below .500 as they try to stay out of the Western Conference play-in tournament a year after losing to the Warriors in the West finals.

The Mavericks were without All-Star guard Kyrie Irving because of right foot soreness and fell 1 1/2 games behind the Warriors, who clinched the tiebreaker by winning the season series 2-1.

Jonathan Kuminga scored 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting off the bench for Golden State, including a soaring, one-handed dunk during a tense fourth quarter.

Two nights after ending an 11-game road losing streak with a victory in Houston, the Warriors made it consecutive road wins for the first time since the NBA Finals last June.

HEAT 127, KNICKS 120

MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler had 35 points, Tyler Herro scored 14 of his 22 in the fourth quarter and Miami moved closer to avoiding the play-in tournament by beating New York.

Herro made four 3-pointers in the fourth for the Heat, who led by 11 in the third, lost the lead briefly, then took it back for good with a 16-2 run midway through the final quarter.

Herro and Max Strus each had a pair of 3s during the clinching run for Miami (40-34), which is just percentage points behind Brooklyn (39-33) in the race for the sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Nets visit the Heat on Saturday.

It was the 700th career win for Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.

New York’s Julius Randle, coming off a 57-point effort Monday against Minnesota, was held to 15. RJ Barrett scored 26 for the Knicks, who also got 25 from Jalen Brunson.


MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 14 rebounds in just 24 minutes as NBA-leading Milwaukee rolled against San Antonio.

The Bucks extended their Eastern Conference advantage to 2½ games over Boston as they prepare for a four-game road swing that includes a matchup Saturday with the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets.

Antetokounmpo rested the entire fourth quarter and watched the Bucks put the finishing touches on their most lopsided win of the season

Bobby Portis and Khris Middleton added 19 points each for the Bucks, who never trailed. Middleton also had 10 assists, while Portis had 10 rebounds.

Devin Vassell scored 16 to lead the Spurs.

76ERS 116, BULLS 91

CHICAGO (AP) — Tyrese Maxey scored 16 of his 21 points during Philadelphia’s dominant first half against Chicago.

De’Anthony Melton had 25 points and Tobias Harris finished with 20 as the 76ers earned a split of the four-game season series. Joel Embiid added 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in just more than 16 minutes of playing time.

The Sixers (49-23) pulled within a half-game of idle Boston for second in the Eastern Conference behind Milwaukee (52-20).

Philadelphia had won eight in a row before Monday night’s double-overtime loss to Chicago. But the 76ers jumped all over the Bulls in the rematch, opening a four-game road trip with an efficient offensive performance.

Playing without James Harden and Jalen McDaniels because of injuries, the Sixers started the game with a 23-1 run.

Coby White scored 19 points for the Bulls. DeMar DeRozan had just four on 0-for-7 shooting.

LAKERS 122, JAZZ 111

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Davis had 27 points and nine rebounds, D’Angelo Russell added 26 points and Los Angeles snapped a six-game losing streak against Phoenix with a victory over the depleted Suns.

Austin Reaves had 25 points and a career-high 11 assists after moving into the starting lineup for the Lakers, who improved to 7-5 in LeBron James’ latest injury absence with an impressive second half against the powerhouse Suns.

Devin Booker scored 25 of his 33 points in the second half for Phoenix, which has lost five of six. Chris Paul had 18 points for the Suns, who hadn’t lost to the Lakers since May 2021.

Kevin Durant missed his seventh straight game for Phoenix with an ankle injury, and Deandre Ayton also didn’t make the trip to Los Angeles while sitting out his second game with a hip injury.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 31 points and 12 rebounds as Denver shook off a slow start and beat short-handed Washington.

Michael Porter Jr. added 21 points and Jamal Murray had 17 for the Western Conference leaders.

The Nuggets went 15 for 32 from 3-point range and finished 3-2 on their longest road trip of the season.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points for the Wizards, who were without three-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal due to left knee soreness. Washington lost its fourth straight.


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 30 points, rookie Shaedon Sharpe had a career-high 24 and Portland topped Utah to stop a six-game losing streak.

Trendon Watford added a season-best 21 points for the Trail Blazers. Portland used a 9-0 run, sparked by Kevin Knox III’s alley-oop layup midway through the fourth quarter, to pull away.

Lauri Markkanen had 40 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz, who had won four of five.

The Trail Blazers (32-40) are three games behind Utah for 10th place in the Western Conference and the final spot in the play-in tournament.


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns scored 22 points in his long-awaited return from a strained right calf and Minnesota rallied past Atlanta.

Naz Reid added 26 points off the bench and Jaden McDaniels had 25 for the Timberwolves, who trailed by 10 with 7:18 remaining but used a 19-5 run to get back in the game.

Atlanta led 124-123 with 50.5 seconds left after a pair of free throws by Trae Young. Towns then hit two free throws with 3.6 seconds left to win it. He was back after missing 51 games for Minnesota, which had lost three of four and slid to ninth in the Western Conference.

Rudy Gobert added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

Young scored 29 points for the Hawks, who were missing second-leading scorer Dejounte Murray (illness) in the second game of a back-to-back.


TORONTO (AP) — Rookie guard Andrew Nembhard had 25 points and 10 assists in his first NBA game back home in Canada, and Indiana beat Toronto to snap its home winning streak at seven.

Myles Turner scored 16 points, Bennedict Mathurin added 15 and Buddy Hield had 13 for the Pacers, who swept the three-game season series between the teams.

Canadian-born players Mathurin, Nembhard and Oshae Brissett all started for Indiana as the Raptors celebrated Canada Basketball Night. It was the first time since the NBA began tracking starters in 1970-71 that three Canadians started for the same team.

Pascal Siakam scored 18 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter but the short-handed Raptors lost their second straight. Siakam also had 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Fred VanVleet had 28 points and 11 assists for Toronto.


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