Morant leads short-handed Grizzlies past Mavericks

DALLAS (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies are making big strides on the court and significant moves off it.

Ja Morant scored 21 points, Jaren Jackson Jr and Tyus Jones added 19 apiece, and the short-handed Grizzlies beat the Dallas Mavericks 121-107 yesterday to move over .500 for the first time this season.

Dillon Brooks had 18 points for Memphis, which took advantage of Luka Doncic’s absence for Dallas despite playing without forwards Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill. They left the team before the game due to pending trades that also included Andre Iguodala, who elected not to play for the Grizzlies after being acquired from Golden State last offseason.

Justise Winslow is headed to Memphis from the Miami Heat in a deal for Iguodala, according to reports.

Brooks said he was glad that situation has been resolved. A few days ago, he said he welcomed the chance to play against Iguodala.

“Now we have a player that we’re getting that actually wants to play with us and thinks we’re good,” Brooks said.

After their win, the Grizzlies announced that Brooks signed a multi-year contract extension. reported it was for USD35 million over three years.

The third-year swingman is averaging a career-best 16.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 28.4 minutes through 51 games. He is the only Memphis player to play and start in every game this season.

Morant said he didn’t care that the Iguodala drama with the Grizzlies has apparently ended.

“That’s in the past. It’s over with,” he said. “We’re going to play with the players that’s on the floor.”

The surging Grizzlies (26-25) won for the 13th time in 16 games. Looking for their first playoff berth since 2017, they lead Portland by three games for the final post-season spot in the Western Conference.

“They believe in each other. They believe in their teammates,” first-year Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I know that’s kind of cliché to say, whatever, but it’s the fact.”

Kristaps Porzingis had 32 points and 12 rebounds for the Mavericks in his third straight 30-point game. Porzingis left briefly with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter with a bloody nose after being elbowed by Josh Jackson while going for a rebound.

“It’s broken, but it’s okay,” Porzingis said. “I really didn’t have a headache or anything.”

Porzingis exited after Memphis broke a 71-all tie and rattled off 10 straight points. The Grizzlies’ run increased to 21-3 for a 92-74 lead with 1:22 left in the period, and they led by as many as 25 in the fourth quarter.

The Mavericks (31-20) were trying to reach 13 games over .500 for the first time this season.

“Ugly game for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

The Mavericks played their fourth straight game since Doncic, the second-year guard voted an All-Star starter, sprained his right ankle in practice last Thursday. They are 2-2 in those games and 4-5 this season minus Doncic, including the December 14 game against Miami.