No Ja Morant, no problem as Grizzlies tie Lakers 1-1
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Xavier Tillman scored a career-high 22 points and had 13 rebounds, and the Memphis Grizzlies tied their first-round Western Conference series at 1-1 Wednesday night by beating the Los Angeles Lakers 103-93 with All-Star guard Ja Morant sidelined by an injured hand.
No. 2 seed Memphis sat Morant after he tested the right hand originally hurt April 7 in a win at Milwaukee and aggravated driving to the basket in the opening loss to the Lakers. He had more exams on the hand before being declared inactive and watched from the bench with his hand bandaged.
Morant’s teammates more than made up for his absence. The Grizzlies led by as much as 20 and had fans waving their towels chanting “Whoop That Trick” with 30 seconds left with this series guaranteed a return to Memphis for Game 5. The Grizzlies were able to dribble out the final seconds for the win.
Jaren Jackson Jr., the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, scored 18 points for Memphis. Desmond Bane had 17, while Tyus Jones had 10 points and eight assists filling in for Morant. Dillon Brooks added 12 points and Luke Kennard had 13.
LeBron James led the Lakers with 28 points and 12 rebounds. Reserve Rui Hachimura had another strong performance with 20 points. Anthony Davis struggled mightily after posting a double-double in the opener, going 4 of 14 and finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds.
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The Lakers, winners of 11 of their previous 13, had a four-game winning streak snapped. Now they head home for Game 3 on Saturday night after never leading by more than three, and that came on the first points of the game.
Memphis took control in the first quarter with a 22-8 run, with back to-back 3s in the span of 10 seconds from rookie David Roddy, then Kennard, who also drew a foul for a four-point play.
With Bane scoring 10 points, Memphis led 30-19 after the first. Jackson made his first 3 with 58 seconds left, and the Grizzlies went into the half up 59-44 after outscoring the Lakers 29-25 in the second.
Hachimura scored 11 in the third and helped the Lakers trim a Memphis lead that reached 66-46 to 73-67. The Grizzlies finished the quarter on a 10-4 run to push the lead to 83-71 going into the fourth.
The Lakers never got closer than 94-88 in the final quarter on a James’ layup with 3:10 remaining. Memphis scored five straight to push it back to double digits.
Lakers: They wound up outrebounded 49-47, though they matched Memphis’ scoring in the paint at 50 apiece despite being outscored there 38-20 in the first half. ... Austin Reaves had 12 points after having 23 in the opener. He was 5 of 12 in this game. ... D’Angelo Russell had five points, shooting 5 of 11 after having 19 in Game 1.
Grizzlies: Jackson was presented his trophy as the NBA Defensive Player of the Year before tipoff. ... Injuries now have kept Morant out of four of the Grizzlies’ last five playoff games, dating back to last year’s conference semifinals.
Tillman had more points in the first quarter than he managed in all of the opening loss. He made his first six shots before missing his seventh, a 3 trying to beat the buzzer that hit off the right rim. He finished with a season high in rebounds.
Reserve John Konchar had his moment too, going way up to block all ball on a shot by Davis in the second quarter.
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