NBA: Ja Morant nets 38 points as Grizzlies hold off Nuggets
Ja Morant scored 38 points, De’Anthony Melton had 21 points and nine rebounds, and the visiting Memphis Grizzlies beat the Denver Nuggets 122-118 on Friday night.
Jaren Jackson Jr. had 20 points and four blocks and Ziaire Williams scored 17 for the Grizzlies. Memphis played without Dillon Brooks (ankle) and Desmond Bane (health and safety protocol).
Nikola Jokic had 26 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his fourth straight triple-double and 11th of the season. Will Barton scored 27 points and added eight assists, Monte Morris finished with 17 points, Aaron Gordon produced 16 points and nine assists, and Jeff Green had 15 points for Denver.
Bryn Forbes, acquired Wednesday from San Antonio, scored nine for the Nuggets.
— NBA (@NBA) January 22, 2022
The Grizzlies led by one early in the second quarter but stretched the gap. Williams hit a 3-pointer and Morant a driving layup and a free throw to make it 54-42 with 6:40 left. It was 63-50 with 4:02 left, but Denver ended the second quarter on a 13-5 run to get within 68-63 at halftime.
Memphis led 72-65 early in the third when the Nuggets made a push. Green dunked, Barton hit two layups and Jokic had a layup and a 3-pointer in an 11-0 run that put Denver ahead 76-72. The lead grew to as much as six and the Nuggets were up 88-83 when the Grizzlies came back.
Melton scored six straight points and Morant scored the next seven for Memphis during a 15-4 run to close the third quarter, giving the Grizzlies a 98-92 lead.
The Grizzlies continued their surge to start the fourth, scoring the first six points to lead 104-92. Barton broke the string with two free throws.
Memphis got the next four points to lead by 14 and Jokic’s driving layup was Denver’s first basket in just under eight minutes.
Barton’s 3-pointer got the Nuggets within 110-101 midway through the fourth, and they had four chances to get closer but turned it over each time. Morant then hit two free throws, Morris missed a jumper and Jackson made a layup to make it 114-101 with 3:36 left.
Denver got within 120-116 with 25 seconds left but no closer.