NBA: Morant tallies 38 points as Memphis holds off Jokic, Nuggets

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Jan 22 2022 01:16 PM

Memphis guard Ja Morant drives to the basket, as Nuggets center Nikola Jokic falls in their game January 21, 2022. Ron Chenoy, USA Today Sports/Reuters
Memphis guard Ja Morant drives to the basket, as Nuggets center Nikola Jokic falls in their game January 21, 2022. Ron Chenoy, USA Today Sports/Reuters

Ja Morant scored 38 points, De'Anthony Melton had 21 points and 9 rebounds, and the visiting Memphis Grizzlies beat the Denver Nuggets 122-118 on Friday night.

Jaren Jackson Jr. had 20 points and 4 blocks and Ziaire Williams scored 17 for the Grizzlies. Memphis played without Dillon Brooks (ankle), and Desmond Bane is in the league's health and safety protocol.

Nikola Jokic had 26 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his 4th straight triple-double and 11th of the season. Will Barton scored 27 points and added 8 assists, Monte Morris finished with 17 points, Aaron Gordon scored 16 points with 9 assists, and Jeff Green had 15 points for Denver.

Bryn Forbes, acquired Wednesday from San Antonio, scored 9 for the Nuggets.

The Grizzlies led by one early in the 2nd quarter but stretched the lead. 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 2nd quarter on a 13-5 run to get within 68-63 at halftime.

Memphis led 72-65 early in the 3rd when the Nuggets made a push. Green dunked, Barton hit 2 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 many as 6 and the Nuggets were up 88-83 when the Grizzlies came back.

Melton scored 6 straight points and Morant scored the next 7 for Memphis during a 15-4 run to close the 3rd quarter to lead 98-92.

The Grizzlies continued their surge to start the 4th, scoring the first 6 points to lead 104-92. Barton broke the string with 2 free throws.

Memphis got the next 4 points to lead by 14 and Jokic's driving layup was Denver's first basket in just under 8 minutes.

Barton's 3-pointer got the Nuggets within 110-101 midway through the 4th, and they had 4 chances to get closer but turned it over each time. Morant then hit 2 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.