MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ja Morant scored 35 points, Tyus Jones added 18 and the Memphis Grizzlies broke open a close game in the fourth quarter to beat the Sacramento Kings 118-108 on Sunday night.
Dillon Brooks added 15 for Memphis, while Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 14 and three blocks as the Grizzlies won their third straight. Morant added eight rebounds and five assists. Jones had eight assists and Steven Adams tied his career-high with 23 rebounds.
De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 19 points, while Malik Monk scored 18 providing a spark off the Sacramento bench. Domantas Sabonis matched Monk’s 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
In a closely played first half, the Kings starters suffered from poor shooting. Only Sabonis had a good percentage with 14 points hitting 6 of 10. But Monk brought energy from the bench with 12 points.
Morant led the Grizzlies with 18 points enroute to a 59-58 advantage at the break.
Neither team could gain a comfortable lead through the first two quarters. There were nine lead changes and seven ties.
The tightness would continue through the third quarter with the Grizzlies taking a 91-87 advantage entering the fourth.
Kings: Won their two previous games over Denver and Utah by a one-point margin in each. … Are now 8-9 on the road. … Fox started his 340th game with Sacramento, tying him with Reggie Theus for 12th on the all-time franchise list. … Harrison Barnes grabbed his 4,000th rebound midway through the third quarter.
Grizzlies: The game was the first game in Memphis on New Year’s Day in franchise history. The Grizzlies have played four on the road on New Year’s Day and the only other home game to open the new year was in 1998 when the team was in Vancouver. … G Desmond Bane sat out the game — the second of a back-to-back — with injury management on a right big toe injury that kept him out 17 games. … John Konchar started in Bane’s spot.
PARITY MEANS BALANCE
Entering the night, Memphis was in third place in the Western Conference, and Sacramento was fifth, all part of a logjam at the top of the conference standings. Memphis was a game behind West-leading Denver, and Sacramento was 3 1/2 off the Nuggets’ pace. Utah, in 10th place, is only six games behind. Kings coach Mike Brown said it was representative of how the league is trending. “That’s why the league, in my opinion, is so close,” he said. “You look at the standings. This is the closest I’ve ever seen it in my 31 years.”