Ja Morant scored in the second half as the Memphis Grizzlies took advantage of LeBron James’ absence to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 121-109 on Tuesday.
After being limited to six points as the Lakers went 49-46 at the break, Grizzlies star Morant broke out with 28 points in the third quarter to decide the contest decisively in Memphis’ favor.
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The win in Memphis ended the Lakers’ three-game winning streak and put a further damper on the team’s recent rebound from James’ injury on Sunday.
James, who has reportedly been on the sidelines for several weeks after injuring his right foot in a Lakers win over Dallas, was spotted wearing a protective boot on the sidelines on Tuesday as his exhausted teammates slid to defeat.
The Lakers were also without the injured D’Angelo Russell, and the absence of the team’s two most assured ball handlers was clearly felt as the Lakers spat out 26 turnovers for 41 points.
Morant was joined by Xavier Tillman with 18 points while Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane each added 16 points for the home team.
Morant said he was determined to produce a great second half after a wayward first-half shooting performance.
“I was locked up,” Morant said. “The shots I missed early in that first half were the shots I took in that third quarter.
“I told my teammates at half-time that I wouldn’t miss too many of them anymore. I got it working and the rest is history.”
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 28 points while Lonnie Walker IV added 21 from the bench.
“We obviously have a few guys from the lineup, but we have capable players and we have to be aware of making the easy game,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham.
“You turn the ball around, it’s hard to get your defense.”
Bucks Rally, Jokic Century
Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points as the Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to 15 games with a 118-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets, rebuilding after the departures of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, took a 28-13 lead in the first quarter and stayed ahead for the rest of the half to lead by 10 points at the break.
But a third-quarter goal blitz from Milwaukee — who surpassed Brooklyn 39-23 — finally saw the Eastern Conference leaders head into the fourth quarter clearly 91-85 before ending the win.
“Right now we’re playing great basketball, we’re playing together and the guys are shooting and defending,” Antetokounmpo said. “We compete out there, do whatever it takes to win, develop good habits. It is fun.”
Antetokounmpo said the Bucks’ unwavering temper helped them recover from their double-digit halftime deficit.
“When we’re winning and taking shots, it’s easy,” Antetokounmpo said after a win that saw the Bucks improve to 44-17.
“But sometimes it’s a little harder when you’re down. But in the end we kept calm as a team.
“We know we have to win games like this.”
In Houston, Nikola Jokic brought on a century of triple-doubles as the Western Conference’s leading Denver Nuggets defeated the Rockets 133-112.
Nuggets star Jokic, the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, finished the tournament with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Serbian star is only the sixth player in NBA history to have 100 or more triple-doubles, alongside Russell Westbrook (198), Oscar Robertson (181), Magic Johnson (138), Jason Kidd (107) and LeBron James (106). .
In San Francisco, Damian Lillard finished with 25 points after his 71-point feat on Sunday but failed to stop the Golden State Warriors, who drove to a 123-105 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Jordan Poole led Golden State scoring with 29 points while Klay Thompson added 23 points.
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(This article was not edited by News18 staff and is published by a syndicated news outlet feed.)