Grizzlies hope to be back at full strength for battle with Spurs
The red-hot Memphis Grizzlies will look to extend their winning streak to seven games when they host the slumping San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.
The Grizzlies beat Utah 123-118 on Sunday night despite playing without leading scorer Ja Morant, top rebounder Steven Adams and productive bench performer Brandon Clarke.
Morant (27.2 points per game, 8.0 assists per game) was a late scratch due to right thigh soreness. Adams (8.0 ppg, 11.2 rebounds per game) was out due to an illness. Clarke (10.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg) missed his fourth consecutive game due to a hip injury.
Tyus Jones got the start in place of Morant and scored 21 points and dished out six assists. Desmond Bane added team highs in points (24) and assists (nine) in 31 minutes of action. Xavier Tillman got the start with Adams out and tallied nine points, nine rebounds and three assists in a season-high 33 minutes.
Bane has been slowly working his way back into top shape after missing 17 games with a right big toe sprain. Following the win over the Jazz, the third-year pro said he’s almost back to where he was before the injury.
“I’m getting there slowly but surely,” said Bane, who made his 400th career 3-pointer in the first quarter. “I’m still a little ways away. But I mean, the feel, the rhythm, I think it’s starting to come.”
San Antonio is coming off a heartbreaking 121-116 home loss to Boston on Saturday thanks to the heroics of Jayson Tatum, who finished with a game-high 34 points and hit the tiebreaking jumper with 33.7 seconds left to put the Celtics up for good.
Despite playing without starters Keldon Johnson (hamstring), Devin Vassell (knee) and Jakob Poeltl (Achilles), the Spurs stayed within striking distance of Boston on the strength of eight double-digit scorers and 49 percent shooting from the floor.
Josh Richardson, Tre Jones and Zach Collins scored 18 points each. Collins also added a team-high 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
Romeo Langford (14 points), Doug McDermott (13), Jeremy Sochan (11), Stanley Johnson (10) and Malaki Branham (10) rounded out San Antonio’s double-digit scorers.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was pleased how his young team performed despite playing without three of its best players.
“Great game, couldn’t be more proud of them,” Popovich said. “Jayson did it at the end of the game, (he) got us. But taking care of the ball, rebounding, playing with effort, I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. A great game for them to be participating in and to play the way they did. Lots of great contributions from everybody on the court and over time we will get everybody back.”
Johnson and Poeltl could possibly return Monday against Memphis. Vassell will have surgery on his left knee on Wednesday and likely won’t return until after the All-Star break.
The Spurs have lost four out of their last five games and five straight on the road. Memphis is 16-3 at home.
–Field Level Media