“We’ve got probably the most clutch performer in the game at our point guard position,” Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. said of Morant “That does help, a little bit. At the end of the day, we all know collectively when it’s time to really flip that switch and turn it on and get that 50-50 ball and gets loose balls and make those big-time shots.”
Murray tied the game at 106 with a step-back 12-foot jumper that trickled into the basket with 4:52 remaining. The Grizzlies responded as they had all night, getting an offensive rebound that led to a 3-pointer by Jackson Jr. Memphis held the lead from there.
Murray had 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to match David Robinson’s team mark. It was the 10th triple-double of the season for the Spurs’ fifth-year point guard.
“We’ve said it before, he’s having a great season and really sets a tone for us,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “But we’ve got to have four, five, six guys playing well every night. We can’t just depend on one or two guys.”
Jackson finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots in the Grizzlies’ fourth straight victory over the Spurs. Desmond Bane added 20 points in his return from a three-game absence while in the league’s health and safety protocols.
Devin Vassell had 20 points off the bench, and Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl added 18 points each for the Spurs, who have lost nine of 12.
Both teams established a quick pace early, putting up 18 shots in the opening five minutes.
“This was one of the most highly competitive games we’ve had all season,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “Both teams just relentless in how they compete, relentless how they play with pace, relentless how they move the ball, relentless how they scramble.”
Memphis used its size advantage in building a 13-point lead in the opening quarter, outscoring San Antonio 12-6 in the paint. The Spurs countered by shooting 5 for 14 on 3-pointers, but the Grizzlies closed the quarter on a 19-11 run.
Memphis had a 62-50 scoring advantage in the paint.
San Antonio went on a 22-10 run beginning midway through the second quarter to pull within three points at 55-52. Six Spurs scored during the run.
San Antonio kept its deficit to single digits throughout the third and fourth quarters, but never could complete the rally.
“We’ve been in that position before,” Bane said. “I think really a time I can look back to is the playoffs last year and what that kind of did for us, (helping in) winning close games like this.”
Morant had 13 points and four assists in the third quarter, including a pair of dunks that put the Grizzlies up by 10 points and brought those on the bench to their feet.
“I don’t care who’s down there, I’m not afraid to finish against you,” Morant said. “My job is to score the basketball when I’m in the paint. If you’re in the way, I’m still trying to finish the play.”
Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke had eight points in 20 minutes after missing Sunday’s loss in Dallas with a sore back. … Kyle Anderson and Tyus Jones remain out in the league’s health and safety protocols due to COVID-19. Anderson has missed six consecutive games and Jones has missed four. … Dillon Brooks has not played since Jan. 8, missing nine consecutive games with an injured ankle. … The Grizzlies are 25-11 against Western Conference opponents.
Spurs: Murray has 10 triple-doubles this season, which is second in the league behind Nikola Jokic’s 11. His 10 triple-doubles this season doubles the previous record established by Johnny Moore in 1985 and matched by Robinson in 1994. … San Antonio assistants Becky Hammon and Darius Songaila returned to the bench after completing the league’s health and safety protocols, but Chip Engelland entered those mandates. … Murray has at least 10 assists in five straight games, becoming the first since Avery Johnson in 1993 to do so for the Spurs. … Johnson has 150 career 3-pointers in 131 career games. … F Keita Bates-Diop missed his second straight game while following the league’s health and safety protocols. … The Spurs are 2-6 in the Southwest Division.
Grizzlies: Host Utah on Friday.
Spurs: Host Chicago on Friday.