Ja Morant posted a triple-double as the Memphis Grizzlies halted their slide with a come-from-behind victory over Indiana on Sunday as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points in Milwaukee’s NBA win over New Orleans.
The Bucks were already on their way to a blowout when Antetokounmpo drained a wide-open three-pointer with 1:38 to play to take his tally to 50 points in Milwaukee’s 135-110 victory over the Pelicans.
It was one of two wire-to-wire victories on the night, with the Cleveland Cavaliers leading all the way in a 122-99 rout of the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers.
Morant scored 27 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out 15 assists as the Grizzlies got back in the win column after dropping five straight on the road.
“We needed it," Morant said.
The hangover from that disastrous trip was apparent in the Grizzlies’ sluggish start. They trailed by as many as 19 and were down 12 at halftime after Indiana’s reserves out-scored the Grizzlies bench 30-5 in the first half.
A 20-5 scoring run in the third quarter saw Memphis pull level. After the Pacers reeled off five straight points the Grizzlies responded with an 18-6 run to grab a 12-point advantage, never trailing in the fourth quarter.
Bennedict Mathurin, the sixth pick in the 2022 draft, led the Pacers with 27 points and eight rebounds.
Jaren Jackson Jr. added 28 points for the Grizzlies, who are two games behind the Denver Nuggets at the top of the Western Conference.
“We had to lock in," Morant said in a post-game television interview. “We were playing with energy, but I thought we were giving up on some plays. They were scoring a little too easily. We had to turn it around."
In Milwaukee, two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo delivered a ruthlessly efficient performance connected on 20 of his 26 shot attempts, including three of four from three-point range, his 50 points in just 30 minutes on the floor putting him just five off the career high he set earlier this month in a win over the Washington Wizards.
He added 13 rebounds as the Bucks notched a fourth straight victory.
“I think 50 on 26 (shots) is impressive," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Jrue Holiday scored 17 and Brook Lopez added 15 for the Bucks, who have hit the 130 point mark in five of their last seven games.
Antetokounmpo signalled his intentions early, scoring 29 points in the first half as the Bucks overwhelmed a Pelicans team missing top scorers Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum.
In Cleveland, the Cavaliers welcomed Donovan Mitchell back from a two-game injury absence with an emphatic 122-99 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, whose five-game winning streak crashed to a halt with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sitting out on the second night of a back-to-back.
As the Cavs celebrated Turkish Heritage Night, Turkish forward Cedi Osman came off the bench to lead Cleveland with 29 points, matching his career high.
Osman connected on 11 of his 13 attempts, including all seven of his shots from three-point range.
“Tonight we took serious and we played a great game," Osman said, little more than a week after the Cavs were embarrassed by a Golden State Warriors team playing without its regular starters.
Hornets sting Clippers
In the day’s only other game, the Charlotte Hornets cooled off the Miami Heat, rallying for a 122-117 victory that ended Miami’s three-game winning streak.
The Heat were a team on the rise after a week that included an impressive victory over Eastern Conference leaders Boston on Tuesday.
They led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but the Hornets, led by 31 points from Terry Rozier and with 27 from P.J. Washington managed to turn the tide.
Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 28 points, connecting on 11 of 14 shots from the floor with seven rebounds.
But the Heat’s defense wasn’t up to the task in the fourth quarter, when Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball scored 13 of his 19 points.
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