Memphis Grizzlies close out Cleveland Cavaliers late, win sixth straight

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  • Ja Morant
    Ja Morant
    American basketball player

No other team looks like the Cleveland Cavaliers. It took the Memphis Grizzlies some time to figure out how to maneuver around the towering frontcourt that features three seven-footers in the starting lineup.

The Grizzlies didn't get their first lead until the last seconds of the first half Tuesday. Even after they adjusted, they couldn't get separation until Ja Morant pulled out the bag of tricks. Morant scored four unanswered points in seven seconds of the last minute of the game after finishing an acrobatic layup and getting a steal to extend the lead to two possessions.

The Grizzlies knocked down their free throws and defeated the Cavs 110-106 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The win capped off a back-to-back on the road against two of the top five seeds in the Eastern Conference.

Memphis (25-14) has won six straight, with Tuesday's coming with five players in COVID-19 health and safety protocols and Desmond Bane scoring just 11 points.

Here are observations from the Grizzlies' victory:

Jaren Jackson Jr. shines

Cleveland's towering frontcourt made it a game full of floaters for Grizzlies' guards. The guards found their way, but it was Jaren Jackson Jr. who led the Grizzlies until then. Jackson Jr. was aggressive off the dribble and used his bigger frame to get into the bodies of the Cavs' frontline. He scored 22 points and made 3-of-8 3-pointers.

Morant and Jones' bag of tricks

Ja Morant is one of the best finishers in the NBA. His arsenal was on display against the Cavs, whose size led to Morant using his left hand more and showing off his hang time. His final layup was over the outstretched arms of talented rookie Evan Mobley. When Morant wasn't torqueing his body in different directions, it was the Tyus Jones floater that gave Cleveland fits. Jones has one of the NBA's best floaters and it comes in handy most against a team as tall as Cleveland.

"The length these guys have with three seven-footers always on the floor in their frontcourt is definitely tough getting to the rim," Morant said. "Whether we got to use any counter moves to get to our floater, which me and (Jones) are very good at, we just tried to do it."

Welcome back Ziaire Williams

On Monday night, it was Jarrett Culver, and on Tuesday night it was Ziaire Williams. The rookie scored 10 points off the bench in his first game back from an ankle injury. Williams was fearless in 14 minutes: He made 2 of 3 3-pointers. During his time out, Williams said he watched a lot of film on Desmond Bane and how he cuts and embraced those mental reps.

"It's been really good to get a different perspective," Williams said. "It kind of allowed the game to slow down for me a little bit."

Tyus Jones and Brandon Clarke also scored in double figures for their third consecutive game as a duo. Like Morant and Bane, this is turning into a nice one-two punch.

A Twitter List by DamichaelC

Contact Damichael Cole at damichael.cole@commercialappeal.com and on Twitter @damichaelc

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis Grizzlies defeat Cleveland Cavaliers behind Ja Morant's scoring

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