NBA

Morant dazzles with 34 points, game-winning shot at buzzer in return

By Sports Desk December 20, 2023

Ja Morant scored 34 points in his season debut, including a spinning dribble in the lane to set up a game-winning floater as time expired, to lift the Memphis Grizzlies to a 115-113 victory Tuesday over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Morant didn’t look rusty in his return, shooting 12 of 24 from the field with eight assists and six rebounds to help Memphis snap a five-game losing streak.

His point total was the most in NBA history by a player coming back from an absence of at least 25 games.

The Grizzlies went 6-19 during Morant’s suspension for his social media antics with guns.

Jaren Jackson Jr. had 24 points and Desmond Bane added 21 for Memphis.

Brandon Ingram poured in 34 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 22 and 4 rebounds for the Pelicans, who had a four-game winning streak stopped.

Zion Williamson was limited by foul trouble and was limited to 13 points.

Lillard has 40 to power Bucks past Spurs

Damian Lillard scored a season-high 40 points to reach 20,000 and Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their fifth straight win, 132-119 over the San Antonio Spurs.

Lillard increased his career point total to 20,034 to become the 51st player in NBA history – and eighth active player – to accumulate 20,000 points. He is the 17th-fastest player to reach that milestone.

Antetokounmpo had a career-high 16 assists, 14 rebounds and a season-low 11 points for his second triple-double this season and 37th of his career.

Milwaukee is 5-0 on its season-long, six-game homestand that concludes Thursday against Orlando. The Bucks have won 14 straight games at Fiserv Forum for their longest home winning streak since a 20-game run from April 19, 1990-Jan. 8, 1991.

The Spurs played without rookie Victor Wembanyama (sore right ankle) and lost for the 20th time in 21 games.

Warriors outlast Celtics in overtime

Stephen Curry scored 33 points, including seven straight in overtime, and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Celtics, 132-126 to end Boston’s five-game winning streak.

Klay Thompson had 24 points, Jonathan Kuminga added 17 and Trayce Jackson-Davis contributed 10 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists as the Warriors won their third in a row.

Derrick White scored 30 points and Jaylen Brown had 26 points, eight boards and six assists for Boston, which dropped its third straight road game.

Al Horford’s 3-pointer with 36 seconds left in overtime drew the Celtics within 127-126, but Curry drilled a 3 with the shot clock winding down with 12 seconds to play and added a pair of free throws in the closing seconds.

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