MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Dillon Brooks scored 25 points, Ja Morant had 23 points and 11 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies built an early lead on 3-point shooting and routed the New Orleans Pelicans 132-111 on Friday night.
Jaren Jackson Jr. had 20 points and three blocks for Memphis. Steven Adams added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said the effort and the complete play of his team “was definitely up there” as far as the best performance of the season.
“Our first quarter defensive activity, the ball movement, the pace we were playing with,” Jenkins said. “We held them to 48 points in the first half.”
Trey Murphy III led New Orleans with 21 points. Zion Williamson had 14 points, going 6 of 12 from the field, and Herbert Jones added 13 points.
“It wasn’t our night,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said, adding: “Our overall effort just wasn’t there.”
The Pelicans were without CJ McCollum, who sat out under the NBA’s health and safety protocol. New Orleans lost Brandon Ingram in the second quarter when he sprained his left big toe. Green said after the game, he had no further updates on the injury. “I’m sure he’ll get some X-rays and imaging and see where we are.”
In addition to leading the Grizzlies in scoring, Brooks had the primary responsibility of guarding Williamson, who was coming off a 32-point, 11-rebound performance in a win over San Antonio on Wednesday.
“I figure that plays more into my type of defense – the physicality,” Brooks said of guarding the bulkier Williamson. “He finds ways to jump over you, get by you and stuff like that. I like the matchup more physical.”
To open the game, the shooting accuracy was on Memphis’ side, with the Grizzlies above 61% both overall and from 3-point range near the midway point of the second quarter. That translated to a 25-point lead.
Asked if it was a lack of Pelicans’ defense or the shooting accuracy of the Grizzlies, Murphy said it was a combination of factors.
“You can’t just say it was all on us and our defense,” Murphy said. “You also have to tip your hat to that team. We made mistakes and they capitalized.”
The Grizzlies’ 20-point lead at the break was built on 13 of 25 3-pointers. They continued to extend the lead after halftime, outscoring New Orleans 21-9 in the first six minutes as the lead swelled to 36 in the third.
“We knew they were going to come out and make a run, and we just exploded for more,” Jenkins said.
Pelicans: With the second-quarter injury, Ingram was limited to eight points, the first time in his 15 games he has not reached double figures. … The loss marked the first in five games Williamson has played against Memphis in his career. … New Orleans is 1-7 when trailing at the half.
Grizzlies: Memphis had three players — Adams, F Santi Aldama and reserve frontcourt man Xavier Tillman Jr. — who made the injury list with non-COVID illness. Aldama and Tillman did not play. Jenkins said: “It’s that time of the year. …The flu bug’s been going around.” … Memphis is 9-1 when leading after three quarters, and 10-2 when the reach at least 110 points.
Pelicans: Host Oklahoma City on Monday night.
Grizzlies: At New York on Sunday.
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