SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies were eager for a fight after being idle for 12 days due to health and safety protocols surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
They got one.
Ja Morant had 19 points and 11 assists, and the Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 129-112 on Saturday night for their sixth straight victory.
“I would say it was a good team win,” Memphis guard De’Anthony Melton said. “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.”
The Grizzlies were playing for the first time since Jan. 18 after having five games postponed primarily due to contact tracing issues.
Memphis shot 56% from the field and had seven players score in double figures. Melton had 20 points, and former Spurs forward Kyle Anderson finished with 16. Reserves Gorgui Dieng and Desmond Bane added 15 points apiece.
“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,” Morant said.
The teams remain in San Antonio for the finale of a two-game set Monday.
Spurs guard Derrick White had 18 points in his return from a 14-game absence due to a toe injury. Dejounte Murray scored 15 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 14.
San Antonio had won three in a row, including a 119-109 victory at home against Denver on Friday.
“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 attempted to rally from a deficit that grew to 18 points, but the Grizzlies responded aggressively on defense each time.
After Morant had the ball stolen, Anderson picked off a pass from Patty Mills that led to a dunk by John Konchar for a 104-92 lead two minutes into the final quarter.
Memphis had seven steals and San Antonio committed 14 turnovers.
After San Antonio pulled within six with seven minutes left, Melton drained a 3-footer to extend the lead to 109-100.
Playing without injured forwards Jaren Jackson and Justice Winslow, the Grizzlies still outscored the Spurs 56-42 in the paint.
When the Spurs tried to protect the interior, the Grizzlies responded by going 17 for 35 on 3-pointers.
“We just got guys that can play, very versatile guys that play multiple positions,” Anderson said. “Coach (Taylor Jenkins) gives confidence to the guys to take those shots.”
Grizzlies: C Jonas Valanciunas was active but did not play after missing Monday’s game while in the league’s health and safety protocol. Valanciunas is expected to play Monday against San Antonio. … Reserve PG Grayson Allen is in the league’s health and safety protocols and is not with the team on this road trip. … Morant had 44 points and nine assists in the Grizzlies’ season-opening 131-119 loss to the Spurs on Dec. 23.
Spurs: DeMar DeRozan was assessed a technical foul two minutes into the second half after getting tangled up with Dillon Brooks. … Aldridge collected his 3,000th rebound with the Spurs, joining Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili as the only players in franchise history to accomplish the milestone. … The Grizzlies scored 51 points on 3-pointers, which is the second-most the Spurs have allowed this season. The Jazz had 63 points on 3s in a 130-109 victory Jan. 3.