All-Star Ja Morant gets triple-double in Memphis Grizzlies' win vs. Utah Jazz

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Newly announced All-Star Ja Morant got a standing ovation and loud applause as his name was announced at FedExForum on Friday night during player introductions against the Utah Jazz. Midway through the first quarter, the Memphis Grizzlies played a video, showing Morant's desire since his rookie season to become an All-Star.

Morant, who came out of the Grizzlies' huddle towards the end of the video, didn't look up at the screen. He was locked in on the mission.

The mission was completed with a triple-double performance from the Grizzlies' All-Star. He led Memphis to a 119-109 victory against the Jazz. Five Grizzlies scored 13 or more points, led by Morant's 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

It was the highest-scoring triple-double in Grizzlies history.

"Sorry for not acting on (the video), but I was locked in," Morant said. "I actually felt like I was playing kind of bad at the start of the game. I appreciate everybody cheering for me at that moment. I felt like the win, I had to get that."

Utah (30-20) shot 44%. Former Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley had 15 points and six assists. He got an ovation before the game while the rest of his starting teammates received boos.

Memphis (34-17) shot 56% overall and 39% on 3-pointers with nine makes.

Here are some observations from the game:

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Bench brings the energy

If this is the De'Anthony Melton the Grizzlies will get when Tyus Jones returns, this team will be even scarier. Melton was a two-way monster against the Jazz. He finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists while being a team-high plus-17 in 28 minutes.

Brandon Clarke had his own mini-dunk contest in the third quarter. Before the dunk contest was an alley-oop layup, where teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. gave him a thumbs down. Melton then threw him an alley-oop that he was so eager to get that he pulled the ball out of the air and slammed it before it reach its peak.

"That was bad," Clarke said of the first third-quarter alley-oop. "I definitely should have dunked that. That's why on the next lob I made sure to jump high on that one."

Morant then fed Clarke repeatedly with lob passes. Utah got within five at the midway point of the third quarter before the bench run and alley-oops resulted in a 10-point lead after three quarters. Clarke finished with 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting.

"B.C. is super athletic," Morant said. "All I know is if I'm on a break and he's running that wing, it's pretty much just try to make a defender commit to the ball and throw it in the air. I know he'll go get it."

Disruptive defense

The Jazz are near the bottom of the NBA in assists per game. That usually means ball movement and spot-up shooting aren't strengths. Those weaknesses were magnified with the absences of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert; plus this Grizzlies defense isn't the one to try to beat one-on-one. Memphis caused problems all game with its length and size. The Grizzlies had nine steals, eight blocks and held the Jazz to a 20 assists with 16 turnovers.

Jackson continues to play like one of the NBA's best defenders. He led the way with six blocks and added two steals with his 18 points. His 50 blocks in January is 19 more than any other NBA player this month. He's the first player with back-to-back games of six or more blocks since Anthony Davis in 2014.

"I'm just being active," Jackson said. "If it comes, it comes. That's really cool that that happened. I'm in good company. (Davis) is a great player."

Getting healthier?

Jones often meets each starting Grizzlies player at the scorers table before the game to give out a handshake and some words of encouragement. He's been missing since being put in health and safety protocols but was back in his pregame hype role Friday night. Teammate Kyle Anderson, who also has been in health and safety protocols, joined him on the bench. Both players should be returning soon.

Dillon Brooks joined teammates on the road trip and continues to progress. His initial timeline was three to five weeks, and he's just about at the three-week point now.

Next Up

The Grizzlies are back at it Saturday at home against the Washington Wizards (7 p.m. Bally Sports Southeast).

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: Ja Morant gets triple double in Memphis Grizzlies win vs. Utah Jazz

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