already Morant scored 23 points and gave 10 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies looked much more like the team that set the NBA’s second-best record, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-96 on Tuesday night to tie the first round of the Western Conference series at one each.
Morant took the bench at 4:40 to a huge ovation. He finished a rebound short of a triple-double. Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. 16 each, with Jackson hitting 4 of 7 out of 3 points, while the Grizzlies finished with seven in double figures.
Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman Sr. and Ziaire Williams had 13 each. Tyus Jones added 10.
Game 3 is Thursday night in Minneapolis.
Anthony Edwards, who scored 36 points on his playoff debut in Game 1, led Minnesota with 20. All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Naz Reid and Taurean Prince each had 12 off the bench, and D’Angelo Russell added 11.
The Timberwolves dominated the series opener after scoring a franchise-record 41 points in the first quarter.
This time, the officials got too busy scoring 20 fouls in a very long first quarter. This prevented the NBA’s highest-scoring regular season teams from getting into any rhythm as they combined to shoot 33 free throws.
At one point, Memphis had Steven Adams, Jackson, Clarke and Dillon Brooks on the bench with two fouls. This forced head coach Taylor Jenkins to turn to Tillman, who did not play in Game 1, and he made the best playoff game of his young career.
The Grizzlies took their biggest lead of this short series at 30-23 on a Jones floater with 2:11 remaining, and led 33-32 after the first quarter when Morant’s long attempt hit the rim and out.
Memphis started running in second and opened the fourth with an 11-2 run and finished with an 11-5 run for a 60-49 halftime lead with Morant not scoring a point. Patrick Beverley summed up Minnesota’s struggles when his layup before the buzzer went off the rim.
The Grizzlies extended their lead to 27 with a 25-9 run in the third, and Morant scored 12 in the fourth, hitting 5 of 7 shots, including both 3-pointers. His layup gave Memphis an 87-60 lead with 4:15 to third, and the Grizzlies led 96-77 going into fourth.
Minnesota was the NBA’s best shooting team out of the arc and edged out Memphis 48-21 in Game 1, with the Grizzlies shooting 26% out of the arc with just three shooting a 3-pointer. This time Memphis hit 11 of 34 with six Grizzlies taking down at least one.
Associated Press report.
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