Grizzlies clinch playoff berth with 151-114 rout of Rockets
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Luke Kennard made 10 3-pointers to match his career high with 30 points, Desmond Bane added 25 points and the Memphis Grizzlies clinched a playoff spot after building a 31-point halftime lead and coasting to a 151-114 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Ja Morant scored 18 points and had eight assists in his second game after serving an eight-game league-imposed suspension after he posted a video in which he is shown waving a gun at a Denver-area strip club. Morant, as he did in his first game back Wednesday also against the Rockets, again came off the bench. He entered with 5:08 left in the first quarter.
Jaren Jackson Jr. also scored 18 points and had seven rebounds and two blocks for Memphis, which had the second-most points in franchise history. The Grizzlies won their 11th straight at home and moved within three games of idle Denver, which holds the top spot in the Western Conference.
Tari Eason had 21 points to lead Houston, while Kevin Porter Jr. and Jabari Smith Jr. each had 20. Porter also had seven assists and six rebounds.
Unlike Wednesday night's game between the teams that was closely played, Memphis put this one out of reach in the first half. The Grizzlies shot 60% overall in the half, connected on 14 of 25 from outside the arc and built the advantage to as many as 31 with an 83-52 lead at the break.
Rockets: Kenyon Martin Jr., who has connected on 59% of his shots since the All-Star break, was 4 of 6 from the field. ... Houston has lost five straight in the series, the longest losing streak of either team. ... The Rockets are 1-5 in their last six road games.
Grizzlies: Kennard finished 10 of 11 from 3-point range. ... Dillon Brooks returned and started after serving his second one-game suspension for technical fouls. Brooks has 18 this season. The next threshold for another one-game suspension is his 20th technical. ... Memphis went undefeated at home against the Southwest Division. Their only two division losses — to Dallas and New Orleans — both came on the road. ... Bane passed Rudy Gay for fifth in franchise history for 3-pointers made.
Rockets: Continue a five-game road trip in Cleveland on Sunday.
Grizzlies: At Atlanta on Sunday to face the Hawks
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Clay Bailey, The Associated Press