Morant dazzles in preseason debut for Memphis

MEMPHIS (AP) – Ja Morant didn’t keep Memphis fans waiting long for his first basket.

Morant, the number two pick in this year’s draft, scored off a baseline drive on the game’s first possession and finished with 10 points and seven assists as Memphis topped Maccabi Haifa 123-88 on Sunday in the Grizzlies’ preseason opener.

Morant played 18 and a half minutes, shooting five for eight from the floor and adding three rebounds. He checked out for the final time midway through the
third quarter.

He showed some flashes of what Grizzlies fans can expect this season, particularly a sequence in the final minute of the first quarter when he had a dunk, then a driving left-handed layup, then found Bruno Caboclo for a three-pointer to end the period and give Memphis a 26-16 lead.

In the second quarter, Morant had assists on consecutive possessions to push Memphis’ lead out to 17 and the Grizzlies remained in control from there.

Later Sunday, Boston plays Charlotte and the Los Angeles Clippers meet the Shanghai Sharks.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (R) controls the ball against Maccabi Haifa guard Gregory Vargas. PHOTO: AP


At Memphis, Jaren Jackson Jr scored 19 points and Grayson Allen had 18 on seven-for-10 shooting as the Grizzlies won easily.

Dillon Brooks scored 16 points for Memphis. Grizzlies centre Jonas Valanciunas was held out with a sore foot that wasn’t believed to
be serious.

James Young, who appeared in 95 NBA games for Boston and Philadelphia, led Maccabi Haifa with 31 points. Norris Cole, a two-time NBA champion with Miami,
added 13.


At Boston, Jayson Tatum scored 20 points and Javonte Green added 15 on seven-of-seven shooting for Boston.

Kemba Walker, acquired via sign-and-trade from Charlotte in July, had 12 points in his Celtics debut.

Rookies PJ Washington led Charlotte with 16 points and Caleb Martin had 13. Miles Bridges had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Terry Rozier — who was came to the Hornets from Boston in the deal for Walker — added nine points and nine assists.


At Honolulu, Maurice Harkless had 16 points on seven-of-seven shooting and JaMychal Green scored 13 points for Los Angeles.

Kawhi Leonard (rest), Paul George (shoulder) and Lou Williams (coach’s decision) did not play for the Clippers. James Nunnally scored 31 points and Donatas Motiejunas had 29 points, 13 rebounds and four steals for Shanghai.