MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant had 17 points and 10 assists and took a key charge late as the Memphis Grizzlies won their fifth straight, beating the Phoenix Suns 108-104 on Monday.
Morant assisted on Grayson Allen’s 3-pointer with 1:06 left to give Memphis a 101-98 lead, then scored on a drive with 30.8 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Morant took a charge against Chris Paul to help maintain the Memphis lead.
Allen, who finished with 16 points, converted four free throws down the stretch. Brandon Clarke also scored 17 points for Memphis.
Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 18 points and tied a season high with 16 rebounds. Mikal Bridges had 17 points, while Paul finished with 16 points and seven assists for Phoenix.
Devin Booker added 12 points but struggled from the field, converting only five of his 21 shots.
The game — part of Memphis’ 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration — marked the first time Phoenix had played in a week after having three games canceled under the league’s health and safety guidelines.
Monday’s game was a matchup of pieced-together lineups as both teams were dealing with injuries and the league’s health and safety protocols. Both teams were without key players. Three players didn’t travel with the Suns, including Dario Saric. The Grizzlies had Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow out with injuries, and starting center Jonas Valanciunas entered the health and safety protocols after Saturday’s win over Philadelphia.
Memphis shot 51% in the first half, but was hindered by a dozen turnovers. The Suns shot 39% in the half, including Booker hitting three of his 12 shots. That helped Memphis carry a 52-48 lead into halftime.
Suns: With the absence of Saric, Damian Jones and rookie big man Jalen Smith, that left only Deandre Ayton and Frank Kaminsky in the low post for the Suns. “I’m just grateful to have those two guys,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. … The Suns have played in two other MLK Jr. games in Memphis — 2007 and 2010. … Cameron Johnson moved into the starting lineup for Jae Crowder, who started the first 11 Phoenix games. … Cameron Payne, who missed the previous two games with a sprained right ankle, returned to action.
Grizzlies: With Valanciunas unavailable, rookie Xavier Tillman made his first NBA start. … Shot 13 of 18, including missing on one of six 3-pointers in the second quarter.