Ja Morant scored 31 points and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 116-115 in overtime on Tuesday night to improve to 4-0 since Morant made his season debut in New Orleans a week earlier.
Desmond Bane scored 27, including a 3 in the final minute of regulation that helped Memphis erase a 15-point, second-half deficit. Bane also made what turned out to be a clinching free throw to give the Grizzlies a 4-point lead with 4 seconds left in overtime.
Jaren Jackson Jr. added 19 points, redeeming his missed free throw at the end of regulation with a pair of baskets late in overtime that gave the Grizzlies the lead for good.
Morant, who’d been named the Western Conference Player of the Week earlier Tuesday, has averaged 28.8 points since completing a 25-game NBA suspension stemming from his antics with guns on social media. His comeback began with a 34-point performance capped by a game-winning floater as time expired in New Orleans on Dec. 19.
The Grizzlies had gone 6-19 before Morant returned to the lineup.
Zion Williamson had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans, who also lost a double-digit, second-half lead to Memphis in the previous meeting. Brandon Ingram scored 24 points and blocked four shots. Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and CJ McCollum added 16 points for New Orleans, which dropped its second straight — both at home.
The overtime came after a wild last few seconds on the game clock that took several minutes to complete because of video reviews of foul calls.
The sequence began when Morant narrowly missed a driving scoop with 1.5 seconds left. Officials initially called a defensive foul on Morant’s shot, but changed the call after a challenge by coach Willie Green, saying video showed Morant had released the ball before contact could have been made on his shooting arm.
Officials then called for a jump ball, which Memphis won with .4 seconds left. The Grizzlies immediately called timeout to set up an alley-oop attempt for Jackson on an inbound pass. Jackson wasn’t able to convert, but Valanciunas was called for a foul trying to deny Jackson the ball.
Green also challenged that call, which was upheld. Jackson made the first free throw to tie it at 103, but the second rolled off the rim.
Marcus Smart, returning from a 17-game absence because of a sprained left foot, scored 13 points, highlighted by his transition layup as he was fouled by McCollum in overtime. He also had five steals.
Grizzlies: Visit Denver on Thursday night.
Pelicans: Host Utah on Thursday night.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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