With Morant out, Desmond Bane takes over as Grizzlies crush Rockets

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HOUSTON — Desmond Bane had 24 points and the Memphis Grizzlies overcame the absence of star Ja Morant with balanced scoring in a 122-98 victory over the NBA-worst Houston Rockets on Sunday.

Bane was one of six Memphis players to score at least 13 points on a day Morant sat out with a sore knee.

The Grizzlies led by double figures for most of the game and had a 13-point lead after three quarters. Kenyon Martin Jr. opened the fourth quarter with a dunk for Houston before Memphis used a 15-0 run to push its advantage to 99-73 with nine minutes to go.

Jaren Jackson Jr. had two 3-pointers and a block in that stretch and Brandon Clarke added four points as the Grizzlies forced two turnovers to help pad the lead.

Coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant was OK and that he just wanted to give him some time to rest with the team’s next game not until Wednesday night. Morant has helped the Grizzlies to the second-best record in the NBA this season behind Phoenix at 49-23. But Memphis has done well without him too, going 14-2 in games that he’s missed.

Dennis Schroder had 17 points off the bench for the Rockets. They have dropped five straight.

The Grizzlies led by 12 at halftime and had extended the lead to 17 after two free throws by Jackson midway through the quarter. Houston got hot after that, making the next 10 points to get to 71-64.

Schroder started things off in that stretch with a 3-pointer and Alperen Sengun had five points, capped by a steal and dunk to help the Rockets cut the deficit.

A 3-pointer by De’Anthony Melton’s ended Houston’s run and started an 8-3 run for Memphis that extended the lead to 79-67 with about three minutes left in the third.

Houston got within 10 late in the third quarter on a dunk by Kevin Porter Jr., but another 3 by Melton gave the Grizzlies an 84-71 lead entering the fourth quarter.