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Morant’s block lifts Grizzlies to ninth straight win

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Memphis Grizzlies set a franchise record with their ninth straight win, getting 16 points and a breathtaking block from Ja Morant in a 127-119 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers yesterday.

Desmond Bane had 23 points, Jaren Jackson Jr added 21 and six blocks, and Memphis won for the 12th time in 13 road games.

Morant’s swat came in the first quarter, when he soared from behind Avery Bradley as he tried for a layup, caught the ball with both hands and smacked it off the glass about halfway up the backboard.

Bradley had stolen the ball away from Morant and tried to break for the other end.

“I just got back and made an incredible play,” Morant said. “I was just trying to gather the ball. Most of the time on a break like that, if you block it, they might have a player trailing to get the ball and lay it up. It worked out perfect for me. Now I’m probably all over the Internet for it.”

Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr vies for the ball with Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. PHOTO: AP

His teammates were understandably impressed. “That’s probably the best block I’ve ever seen live. Probably the best block I’ve ever seen, period,” Jackson said.

“That was crazy. I knew he was going to do it, too, because he always loads up right before.

Morant also threw down an alley-oop dunk off a lob from Bane in the third quarter, nearly hitting his head on the rim a night after sitting out against the Clippers with left thigh soreness.

LeBron James scored 23 of his 35 points in the first half. He made 14 of 19 shots and added seven assists. He passed Oscar Robertson (9,887 assists) for seventh most assists in NBA history.

The Grizzlies snapped the Lakers’ four-game winning streak and a stretch in which the Lakers had won five of six.

“Memphis played great. They’re one of the hottest teams in the league,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We had trouble getting back in transition. We let a lot of misses at the basket affect our defensive focus. When we weren’t scoring, we lost focus of what we were supposed to be doing on the defensive side. That can’t happen. That was a big reason they built a big league.”

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