Grizzlies clinch play-in spot, push Pelicans to brink of elimination | Inquirer Sports
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Grizzlies clinch play-in spot, push Pelicans to brink of elimination

/ 02:37 PM May 11, 2021
 Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies

Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at FedExForum on May 10, 2021 in Memphis, Tennessee. Justin Ford/Getty Images/AFP 

Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant both had double-doubles as the Memphis Grizzlies clinched a berth in the Western Conference play-in tournament by beating the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 115-110 on Monday night.

Valanciunas had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Morant added 12 points and 12 assists as the ninth-place Grizzlies (35-33) ended a five-game losing streak against the Pelicans and guaranteed that they will finish no lower than 10th in the West.

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Dillon Brooks scored a game-high 23 points, Kyle Anderson had 14 and Jaren Jackson Jr. 12 for Memphis.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 18 points, Willy Hernangomez scored 15, Jaxson Hayes and James Johnson scored 13 each, Naji Marshall added 12 points and 11 rebounds, Lonzo Ball scored 12 and Eric Bledsoe 11 to lead the short-handed and 11th-place Pelicans (31-38), who fell to the brink of elimination from play-in contention.

New Orleans played its third consecutive game without its injured starting frontcourt — Zion Williamson (fractured finger), Brandon Ingram (ankle) and Steven Adams (foot).

Valanciunas went to the bench after committing his fourth foul with 10:18 left in the third quarter and the Pelicans began the period with a 15-2 run to take a 74-73 lead.

Anderson’s free throw tied the score before New Orleans scored the next six points, but Morant scored eight straight to tie the score.

Kira Lewis Jr.’s layup with 15 seconds left gave New Orleans an 88-86 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Hayes’ 3-pointer started the fourth-quarter scoring, but back-to-back baskets by Valanciunas completed an 8-0 run that gave the Grizzlies a 94-91 lead.

The Pelicans got within one point twice before Valanciunas made two free throws and a basket to give Memphis a 106-97 lead.

Hayes’ 3-pointer pulled New Orleans within 109-107, but Anderson answered with a 3-pointer for a five-point lead with 1:32 left.

Alexander-Walker made a 3-pointer, but Brooks added a jumper for a 114-110 lead with 52.3 seconds left. The Pelicans didn’t score again.

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