Morant returns but Thunder down Grizzlies to avenge 73-point loss | Inquirer Sports

Morant returns but Thunder down Grizzlies to avenge 73-point loss

/ 12:06 PM December 21, 2021

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

FILE – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in action during a game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 20, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 23 points to fuel the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder to a 102-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.

Rookie Josh Giddey collected a career-high-tying 19 points and a career-best 11 assists and Kenrich Williams added 13 points off the bench for the Thunder, who avenged a 152-79 shellacking in Memphis on Dec. 2. The 73-point margin in the earlier contest was the largest in NBA history.


Memphis’ Desmond Bane celebrated his 100th career game by draining five 3-pointers and finishing with 25 points. Dillon Brooks scored 19 points, and Ja Morant had 16 points and eight assists in his return from a 12-game absence caused by spraining his left knee on Nov. 26.


Jaren Jackson Jr. had 15 points and Steven Adams recorded 12 of his 14 rebounds in the first quarter for the Grizzlies, who have dropped two in a row following a sizzling 10-1 run.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s layup gave Oklahoma City a 94-93 lead with 1:42 to play before Morant answered with a short jumper on the next possession. Gilgeous-Alexander alertly found a cutting Giddey for a layup with 50 seconds left to regain the advantage for the Thunder.

Memphis’ Kyle Anderson misfired on a mid-range jumper before Gilgeous-Alexander made an uncontested dunk off an inbounds pass to push Oklahoma City’s lead to three points with 16.6 seconds remaining.

Gilgeous-Alexander stole the ball off another inbounds pass and made two free throws with 12.6 seconds to go. Morant responded with two free throws, and after Giddey made 1 of 2 foul shots, Bane’s tip shot trimmed the deficit to two.

Oklahoma City’s Luguentz Dort split two free throws before Brooks’ desperation heave from beyond half-court fell short to end the game.

Morant opened eyes with a pronounced bounce pass that caught Xavier Tillman in stride for a fastbreak dunk to give the Grizzlies a 37-21 lead early in the second quarter. The Thunder, however, slowly chipped away and forged a tie before Bane sank a 3-pointer to allow Memphis to seize a 50-47 advantage at halftime.

The Thunder hit the ground running to start the third quarter, scoring 25 of the first 37 points to take a 72-62 lead. Dort drained three 3-pointers in that surge, but the Grizzlies countered with a 10-2 run to end the quarter.

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TAGS: Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies, OKC Thunder

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