Dieng leads nine scorers in double figures, Memphis rout Hawks

ATLANTA (AP) — Gorgui Dieng had 17 points and 10 rebounds, leading nine Memphis scorers in double figures, and the Grizzlies pulled away in the second half for a 127-88 win over the cold-shooting Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

Memphis, trying to protect its number eight spot in the Western Conference playoff field, has won two straight following five consecutive losses.

The Grizzlies missed their first 11 shots from the field against Atlanta but recovered to lead 24-23 at the end of the opening period. They led 52-49 at halftime and pulled away in the third period.

“We’ve got to come out from the jump, even if we aren’t making shots,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “They got out of the slump there. And then we just kind of found a groove.”

Jenkins said poor defence contributed to the slow scoring start. “I felt their urgency on the defensive end wasn’t really there,” Jenkins said.

Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Grizzlies. Josh Jackson had 15 points and Ja Morant scored 13.

Atlanta suffered its third loss in its last 11 home games. The Hawks were denied their first three-game winning streak of the season. They shot a season-low 32.3 per cent from the field, making 32 of 99 shots.

Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce opened his postgame news conference by saying, “I’ve got nothing to say.”

Asked if there were any teachable moments in the loss, Pierce said, “I don’t know what to teach. You can’t teach effort.”

Pierce then left the interview room. Trae Young led Atlanta with 19 points on five-of-17 shooting.

Morant was coming off one of his most impressive games. He had 27 points and 14 assists, matching his season high, in the Grizzlies’ 105-88 win over the Los Angeles Lakers last Saturday.

Morant said he enjoyed facing Young for the first time in a matchup of young stars at point guard.

Atlanta Hawks centre Damian Jones defends against a shot by Memphis Grizzlies centre Gorgui Dieng. PHOTO: AP