Melton, Bane lead Morant-less Grizzlies past Bucks, 127-102


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MEMPHIS, Tennessee — De’Anthony Melton had 24 points, Desmond Bane added 20, and the Memphis Grizzlies continued to win in the absence of scoring leader Ja Morant, beating the Milwaukee Bucks 127-102 on Saturday night.

Dillon Brooks scored 19 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. had 16 and two blocks to help Memphis win its fourth straight and eighth in the last nine games. Melton was 8 of 11 from the field and went 6 of 9 from a 3 point range.

“I’m just trying to get out and hoop,” Melton said. ‘Have fun with it. Play with confidence and do what the team asks of me.’

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 30 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks and scored 18 points in the third quarter as Milwaukee tried to score. Khris Middleton added 16 points. The defending champion Bucks has only lost a third time in their last 13 games.

Milwaukee finished in a tie for third place with Boston in the Eastern Conference, half a game behind Philadelphia and Miami.

Antetokounmpo was considered pre-match doubtful with a sore right knee, but after going through the pregame warm-ups he was deemed ready to play. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies continued to play without Morant, who is suffering from a sore right knee and is not expected to return until the end of the regular season.

“They just do a lot of things that have to do with winning basketball,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said, adding, “Credit to their players, to (Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins), the coaching staff. They just keep playing no matter who is playing.”

The Bucks struggled to connect with their shots in the first half and were under 30% overall by the middle of the second quarter. Antetokounmpo was 3 of 11 in the first half, part of Milwaukee’s 32% shooting spree.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Bane and Melton each had 12, while Memphis led 59-46 at the break.

Antetokounmpo came out with much more aggression in the second half and made his way into the basket and helped Milwaukee take Memphis’ lead. But near three minutes, Melton connected with a trio of three-pointers to take the Grizzlies lead to 22.

Memphis led 98-79 and came in fourth.

“It felt like (Antetokounmpo) was trying to get us back in the game,” said Budenholzer. “It felt like we had some momentum for a few little bits there in the third quarter where I felt like we could get back into it.

“But we couldn’t keep it up.”

For the Grizzlies, they continue to win with Morant on the shelf. They are now 17-2 and their top scorer is not playing. Jenkins attributes the success to a well-balanced team.

“We’ll just stick to our identity,” Jenkins said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a starter, bench or mixed formations. Whatever we do, we do our best.’

MELTON’S SHOOTING:

Melton has 26 out of 44 three-pointers in the last six games'” a 59% clip. As for the secret to his recent success, Melton said his family is in town. He said they “inspire confidence in me.”

“Even if I go out to play soft or something like that, I have to go home and hear that from them,” he said. “I’m just trying to get out there, play hard, play my game and keep them off my back a little bit.”

TIP INS:

Bucks: Jrue Holiday, who had led the team in scoring in the last two games and averaged 23 points in the last five, was out with left ankle pain. Middleton passed Vin Baker for 11th on the Bucks career list. Baker had 3,080. Saw an end to their four-game winning streak in Memphis. Bobby Portis Jr. had eight offensive rebounds in the season.

Grizzlies: Memphis has a seven-game home win streak. Steven Adams grabbed his third offensive rebound in the second half to set a new franchise record for one season. He passed Zach Randolph who had 330 offensive boards in 2009-10. Tyus Jones finished with 13 points and 10 assists.

NEXT ONE:

Bucks: Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

Grizzlies: Host Golden State on Monday nights.

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