LOS ANGELES — Ja Morant led five starters in double figures with 28 points and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 120-114 in their home opener Saturday night.
Morant burned Cleveland for 37 points — second-most in franchise history in a season opener — in the Grizzlies’ 11-point win. He came back strong to open a four-game West Coast trip in which the Grizzlies face three playoff teams from last season.
The Clippers twice got within two points in the final 1:14 on baskets by Paul George, who finished with 41 points — seven off his career high — and 10 rebounds.
But Jaren Jackson Jr. answered with a 3-pointer that kept the Grizzlies in front 119-114 with 17 seconds to go.
“You can hear the crowd just feel sick,” Jackson said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said, “Ja collapsing the defense and then kicking out and trusting his teammate to make a big shot. That’s leading by example.”
“I’m happy we fought, but that can’t be who we are, just be happy that we played hard,” George said. “Play hard should be a given. We got to win games.”
“To close out this one was good, especially on the road,” Jackson said.
Reggie Jackson added 17 points for the Clippers.
Memphis outscored the Clippers 30-11 to open the third and take an 89-73 lead after trailing much of the first half. Morant and Adams scored nine points each, and Melton and Bane hit back-to-back 3-pointers.
“He’s just explosive. He’s so good and so fast,” George said of Morant. “He made it tough for us, he put a lot of pressure on us.”
The Clippers closed with a 14-8 spurt, including consecutive 3-pointers from George, to trail 97-89 going into the fourth.
“They were going zone, going physical, trapping and doing everything to get us out of our rhythm, but we made some big-time plays,” Jenkins said.