After being idle for 12 days due to health and safety protocols surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Memphis Grizzlies were ready for a war.
Ja Morant had 19 points and 11 assists, and on Saturday night, for their sixth straight win, the Grizzlies defeated the San Antonio Spurs 129-112.
Memphis guard De’Anthony Melton said, “I would say it was a good team win,” “We got four or five dudes in double figures. We definitely needed something like this coming off a two-week span.”
“It just shows our team fight. No matter what’s out there, we’re just going to continue to fight.”
After making five games postponed mostly because of touch tracing problems, the Grizzlies were playing for the first time since Jan. 18.
Memphis shot 56% from the field and had double figures for seven players. Melton had 20 points, and Kyle Anderson, a former Spurs forward, finished with 16. The Gorgui Dieng and Desmond Bane Reserves contributed 15 points each.
Morant said, “For us to stay locked in and continue to do the things that we need to do to win just shows the work of this whole organization,”
The teams are staying in San Antonio for Monday’s final of a two-game set.
In his return from a 14-game absence due to a toe injury, Spurs guard Derrick White had 18 points. Dejounte Murray scored 15, and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 14 points. San Antonio had won three in a row, including Friday’s 119-109 home win over Denver.
“Everybody plays back-to-backs, and it probably showed a little bit on us.” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “But everybody goes through it, you just have to play. We got outplayed tonight, that’s the bottom line.”
The Spurs tried to rally from a deficit that increased to 18 points, but each time the Grizzlies reacted aggressively on defense.
Anderson picked off a pass from Patty Mills after Morant had stolen the ball, which led to a dunk by John Konchar for a 104-92 lead two minutes into the final period.
Memphis had seven steals and 14 turnovers were committed by San Antonio.
Melton drained a 3-footer to extend the lead to 109-100 after San Antonio pulled within six with seven minutes remaining.
The Grizzlies also outscored the Spurs 56-42 in the paint, playing without injured forwards Jaren Jackson and Justice Winslow.
The Grizzlies replied by going 17 for 35 on 3-pointers when the Spurs attempted to secure the interior.
Anderson said, “We just got guys that can play, very versatile guys that play multiple positions, Coach (Taylor Jenkins) gives confidence to the guys to take those shots.”