MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant had 37 points and six assists, De’Anthony Melton added 20 points and the Memphis Grizzlies pulled away in the fourth for a 132-121 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night in the opener for both teams.
Morant and Melton combined for 14 points down the stretch as the Cavaliers pulled within a point on a couple of occasions but could never overtake Memphis. Desmond Bane added 22 points for Memphis.
Jarrett Allen led the Cavaliers with 25 points, hitting all 11 of his shots from the field. Collin Sexton and rookie Evan Mobley added 17 points each. Cedi Osman, keyed a first-half burst and finished with 15.
The Cavaliers, who trailed by as many as 16 in the first half, chipped away at the Memphis lead, trailing by 94-90 heading to the fourth. Allen had hit all nine of his shots from the field, and Osman had missed only one, going 5 of 6 through the first three quarters.
But Memphis opened the fourth quarter with 10 straight points to create some space. The Cavaliers had one more push — getting to 119-118 with just under two minutes left. But Morant's floater and a layup by Melton clinched the victory.
Memphis broke open a close game in the second quarter as Melton connected on a trio of 3-pointers early in the frame and Cleveland struggled from the field. Meanwhile, Morant continued to get to the rim, converting 10 of 15 shots in the first half.
Morant scored 20 in the half as the Grizzlies stretched the lead to as many as 16 in the second quarter, eventually taking a 73-61 lead into the break. The 73 points was the fifth-highest for a first half in franchise history.
Allen had 14 first-half points to lead the Cavaliers.
Cavaliers: Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff coached the Grizzlies from 2017-2019. … C Evan Mobley, the third overall pick in last summer’s draft, scored on the Cavs first possession, knocking down a 15-footer. … Allen tied a career high with three steals.
Grizzlies: G/F Dillon Brooks was out of action recovering from a left hand fracture. …Memphis is now 6-21 in season openers in franchise history. The last opening win for the Grizzlies was in 2017 over the New Orleans Pelicans. … Bane picked up Memphis’ first technical of the year, punching the air when he was called for a foul in the second quarter.
Cavaliers: Play their home opener Friday, entertaining the Charlotte Hornets.
Grizzlies: Travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Saturday in the opener of a four-game West Coast swing.
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Clay Bailey, The Associated Press