EditorsNote: minor edits
Ja Morant paired 26 points with eight assists and took over down the stretch as the host Memphis Grizzlies extended their winning streak to six games with a 121-110 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
After James Harden pulled the Rockets to within 98-96 on a technical free throw with 6:42 remaining, Morant drilled two 3-pointers, and completed a three-point play as Memphis reclaimed a 114-105 lead with just over two minutes to play. It was yet another dynamic performance for the rookie point guard, who finished 10-for-11 from the floor.
Dillon Brooks added 24 points on 6-for-10 shooting from 3-point range, while Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 19 and 15 points, respectively.
The Grizzlies surged to the lead in the second quarter and mustered hasty responses when the Rockets took brief leads in the third and fourth.
Harden scored a game-high 41 points but shot just 13 of 37 overall and missed 14 of 19 3-pointers. Houston played without guard Russell Westbrook (rest), with his replacement Ben McLemore producing 14 points on 5 of 12 shooting.
Eric Gordon added 23 points off the bench for the Rockets, who shot just 31.1 percent (14 of 45) from behind the arc. Clint Capela finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Rockets.
Harden poured in 17 points in the opening period on 6-of-8 shooting, yet the Rockets couldn't shake Memphis. The Grizzlies erased what was an 11-point deficit in roughly three minutes, pulling even at 22-22 when Valanciunas nailed an 11-foot jumper at the 4:29 mark of the first.
The Rockets reclaimed a 39-32 lead early in the second before the Grizzlies exploded and seized control.
Memphis reeled off a blistering 27-8 run, with Jackson scoring 13 points during that stretch while Morant recorded three assists.
The Rockets fell into a 12-point hole and had to scrap and claw to cut the deficit to 67-61 at halftime. Their defense was subpar, with Memphis shooting 56.5 percent in the first half while recording 16 fast-break points.
Jackson, Morant and Valanciunas all recorded 13 points by the break, with Morant adding six assists.
--Field Level Media