MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ja Morant scored 23 points and handed out 10 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies looked much more like the team that posted the NBA’s second-best record, routing the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-96 on Tuesday night to even up their first-round Western Conference series at one apiece.
Morant went to the bench with 4:40 left to a huge ovation. He finished a rebound shy of a triple-double. Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. each added 16 with Jackson hitting 4 of 7 from 3-point range as the Grizzlies finished with seven in double figures.
Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman Sr. and Ziaire Williams each had 13. Tyus Jones added 10.
Game 3 is Thursday night in Minneapolis.
Anthony Edwards, who scored 36 points in his playoff debut in Game 1, led Minnesota with 20. All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Naz Reid and Taurean Prince had 12 each off the bench, and D’Angelo Russell added 11.
PELICANS 125, SUNS 114
PHOENIX (AP) — Brandon Ingram scored 37 points, CJ McCollum added 23 and New Orleans Pelicans beat the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in Game 2, evening the series in their Western Conference first-round matchup.
Not only did the Suns lose the game, but they’re unsure about the health status of All-Star guard Devin Booker, who was spectacular in the first half with 31 points before leaving with right hamstring tightness in the third quarter.
The Suns — who led the NBA with a franchise-record 64 wins during the regular season — trailed 77-74 when he departed.
Phoenix kept the game close without their leading scorer and even took a lead early in the fourth, but the Pelicans rallied, getting big 3s from Jose Alvarado, Ingram and McCollum to take an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.
Ingram added tough back-to-back jumpers in the closing minutes to keep a final Suns rally at bay. New Orleans earned its first playoff win since 2018.
HEAT 115, HAWKS 105
MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler scored a playoff career-high 45 points, including a personal 7-0 run in the final moments, and Miami Heat held off Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Tyler Herro scored 15 for Miami, while Max Strus scored 14 and Gabe Vincent added 11 for top-seeded Miami, which took a 2-0 lead over the eighth-seeded Hawks.
Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 19 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter for Atlanta. Trae Young scored 25 for the Hawks, while De’Andre Hunter had 16 and John Collins finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks.
Butler’s previous playoff best was 40, done twice, both in the bubble when the Heat made the 2020 NBA Finals. The Heat needed all of his heroics then, and they needed them all on Tuesday as well.
Bogdanovic’s 3-pointer with 3:15 left got Atlanta within 104-101.
From there, it was all Butler.