MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tyus Jones, filling in for Ja Morant, had 24 points, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 16 and the Memphis Grizzlies withstood a second-half San Antonio rally to beat the Spurs 121-113 on Monday night.
Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks finished with 15 apiece for Memphis, which played its second consecutive game without Morant, its leading scorer, who is nursing soreness in his right thigh.
“Just sticking with it,” Tyus Jones said of withstanding the Spurs late run. “We showed our poise in not letting their run kind of deter us from what we needed to get done.”
Tre Jones, Tyus Jones’ younger brother, led the Spurs with 18 points and seven assists, while Josh Richardson added 16 points. Romeo Langford and Jakob Poeltl finished with 13 points each as the Spurs lost their fifth in the last six.
The Spurs comeback fell short but was indicative of the tone Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is setting with his team. Popovich has continually noted how hard his team plays, and Tre Jones said that is a necessity.
“It’s definitely our mentality every night,” the Spurs point guard said. “How hard we are going to play. It’s something we have to do to give ourselves a chance every single night. It’s something we want to build on.”
San Antonio, which trailed 72-61 at the half, made a dent in the Memphis advantage in the third quarter, pulling within six points on several occasions. The Spurs would erase the lead early in the fourth on consecutive baskets from Richardson. Turnovers were hurting Memphis as the Spurs extended the lead to five points. From there, the two teams exchanged leads.
“We showed up in the second half,” Popovich said. “I thought the first half both teams were bored to death. It was the most boring basketball I’ve seen all year.”
After the game was tied at 109 near the midway point of the fourth, Memphis clicked off an 11-2 rally to create enough of a buffer for its seventh straight win.
“Bad shot. Turnover. They make a 3, and all of a sudden, it’s a six- or eight-point game. It’s the story of (our) season so far,” Popovich said
Spurs: Keldon Johnson missed his second game with left hamstring tightness. … Have lost six straight on the road.
Grizzlies: Have won eight straight in the series. … Jackson had five blocks in the game.
The game marked the first time the Jones brothers — Tyus of the Grizzlies and Tre of the Spurs — started a game together in the NBA.
“It’s a moment you only dream about honestly,” Tyus Jones said. “It’s surreal to come to that moment.”
For Tre Jones, four years younger than Tyus, there were reminders of their days playing against each other as kids — in the back yard, playroom or playing Nerf basketball against each other.
“It’s probably my favorite basketball moment, I’ve ever been a part of,” the younger Jones said. “Getting a start against my brother at this level, it means the world to both of us.”
SPURS TIME FOR DANNY GREEN
Grizzlies forward Danny Green, who played eight seasons with the Spurs, has not seen action this season as he recovers from left knee surgery after an injury suffered in last season’s playoffs. Asked what he remembered about Green’s time with the Spurs, coach Gregg Popovich replied: “He played more then, that’s for sure.” Then he added that Green was the “consummate pro.”
“He was a big part of what we did,” Popovich added of the time Green was in San Antonio. “He was always one of the team favorites. …He’s easy to be around. Got a great sense of humor. Just a good guy.”
The two teams play the second game of the series on Wednesday.
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