Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder beat Grizz in Morant's return

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 23 points, Josh Giddey added 19 points and 11 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies 102-99 Monday night.

Morant returned from injury and the league's COVID-19 protocols after a 12-game absence and finished with 16 points. Desmond Bane led Memphis with 25 points and Dillon Brooks scored 19.

The Thunder overcame an 89-84 deficit in the final 4:36 and took the lead for good at 96-95 on Giddey's layup with 50 seconds remaining.

The last time these teams met, the Grizzlies set an NBA record for margin of victory in a 152-79 thrashing. In the Dec. 2 game — also at FedExForum — Memphis established franchise records for bench points (93) and field goals made (60).

It appeared as if the Grizzlies were going to make another run at a lopsided win at the outset.

Memphis took advantage of poor shooting by the Thunder to build a 16-point lead early in the first half. The Thunder missed 12 of their first 14 shots and trailed 39-23 with eight minutes left in the second quarter.

The Grizzlies failed to capitalize, and the Thunder rebounded. Memphis went five minutes without a field goal shortly afterward and Oklahoma City rallied. With 1:17 to go before the half, the Thunder tied it at 45 on Giddey's corner 3.

The Grizzlies led 50-47 at halftime.

Oklahoma City surged ahead 69-60 late in the third quarter as Luguentz Dort recovered from 1-for-9 shooting in the first half. Dort made three 3-pointers in the quarter, and the Thunder briefly led by 10 points before ending the period with a 74-72 advantage.

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Point guard Tyus Jones did not play because a sprained right finger. Jones started during Morant’s 12-game absence. ... Center Steven Adams had 12 rebounds in the first eight minutes of the opening quarter, the most by a player in a single quarter this season. He finished with 14.

Thunder: Darius Bazley did not start for the second consecutive game. He was demoted before Saturday’s 104-103 win over the Clippers. Bazley is averaging 8.6 points, down from the 13.7 he averaged last season.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Host Denver on Wednesday night.

Grizzlies: At Golden State on Thursday night.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Phil Stukenborg, The Associated Press

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