Ja Morant scored a game-high 49 and led the Memphis Grizzlies to a 129-122 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Morant ignited the Rockets on mid-range jumps and went to the belt of pick and roll, from behind the 3-point arc and in transition. He finished 5-for-6 with 3-point attempts, his only miss coming late in the fourth inning on a beat with an expired shot meter.
Morant, who is three points behind in his career, added eight assists and two blocked shots, both coming in the fourth half as the Rockets kept things close.
It was a Morant assist on Desmond Bane 3 that gave Memphis an 80-79 lead, erasing what was once a 16-point deficit. But Morant took damage by scoring in the third inning, scoring 19 on 8/9 shots during this period. When he returned from his final break in the fourth round, the Grizzlies led 111-110 with 7:41 remaining. It was followed by Morant scoring seven points and assisting John Konchar 3, extending the lead to 123-113.
Jalen Green led the Rockets with 33 points while Kevin Porter Jr added 18 points and 4 assists. Alperen Sengun scored a brace of 23 points and 12 rebounds after coming on as a substitute.
Will is the driving force throughout. The Grizzlies took a 17-13 lead as he sat at 4:59 of the first inning and the Rockets then responded to his absence with a 17-0 tie between the first and second innings. Green and Porter were integral to giving Houston a six-point advantage in the second half, and when Eric Gordon sank a pair of free throws with 9:51 left in the half, the Rockets rose to the top of the contest 42- 26. .
When Morant returned midway through the second quarter, he directed the Grizzlies back into the fray. Whether piercing the Houston defense with high-screen probing or by giving Jake LaRavia (12) and Konchar the opening three, Morant proved unstoppable.
However, the Rockets extended their lead to eight points after the break with Green scoring 20 points in the first half and Sengun scoring 13 points with six rebounds before halftime. But as Morant boomed in the third quarter, there wasn’t much the Rockets could do to keep momentum.
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