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Sunday, April 2, 2023

Short-handed Grizzlies can’t afford loss to Spurs

Short-handed Grizzlies can’t afford loss to Spurs


The Memphis Grizzlies will look to get back on the winning track and stay in the hunt for second place in the Western Conference when they travel to play at San Antonio on Friday.

The Grizzlies (41-27) come off a 138-119 loss in Miami on Wednesday that snapped their three-game winning streak.

Jaren Jackson Jr. led Memphis with 25 points with Luke Kennard adding 14, Ziaire Williams scoring 12, and Tyus Jones and Desmond Bane each hitting for 11 points. Bane was ejected for a Flagrant 2 foul midway through the third quarter.

Memphis played without the suspended Ja Morant, and the injured Steven Adams (knee) and Brandon Clarke (torn Achilles). The Grizzlies are 3-3 through the first six contests of Morant’s eight-game suspension.

“Ja will return to the team, first opportunity will be back practicing with the team on Monday,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said Wednesday. “There will be a quick ramp-up period after that. He hasn’t been playing basketball for almost two weeks now so that’ll be our focus and hopefully get him back on the court pretty quickly.”

The Grizzlies trailed by 12 at halftime and then surrendered 42 points in the third. They never got close the rest of the way after pulling their starters. Memphis has won just two of its past 14 road games and is 13-22 away from home.

Memphis is tied with Sacramento for second in the West, 4 1/2 games behind Denver, but the Kings own the tiebreaker.

The short-handed Spurs (18-51) let one get away on Wednesday, losing at home to Dallas 137-128 in overtime after leading deep into the fourth quarter. Keldon Johnson missed two free throws with 1.7 seconds remaining in regulation. He made up for that gaffe by converting an alley-oop dunk on an inbounds pass from Malaki Branham just before the buzzer to send the game to the extra period.

San Antonio scored the first bucket of overtime but then allowed the next 11 points. The Spurs lost for the second time in their past three games to a Dallas team that was playing without the injured Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Johnson led San Antonio with 27 points. Branham added 20, Romeo Langford scored 17, Devonte’ Graham and Tre Jones hit for 13 each, Blake Wesley tallied 11 and Sandro Mamukelashvili pitched in 10 points in the loss.

San Antonio was playing the second game of a home back-to-back and was missing Jeremy Sochan (right knee injury management), Zach Collins (left ankle injury management), Keita Bates-Diop (left Achilles soreness) and Devin Vassell (left knee injury management).

“We’ve got a lot of injuries, unfortunately, but we got some great guys in there ready to step up,” Branham said.

All four of those players should be available for Friday’s game.

“We were down some people and I’m proud of me and my team, Johnson said. “Obviously, as one of the older guys I feel that could have done better. I feel like some shots that I missed or some turnovers that I made or some free throws that I missed, those things I usually make.”

Memphis has won all three games with the Spurs this season.

–Field Level Media

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