MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – The Memphis Grizzlies youth movement was supposed to mean a rebuilding year. But, right now, they are sitting on the edge of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Dillon Brooks scored 28 points, Ja Morant added 25 and the Memphis rallied in the fourth quarter for a 119-112 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night. The win left the Grizzlies in the ninth spot, a half-game behind the San Antonio Spurs.
Granted its early – approaching the midway point of the season – but most observers never expected Memphis, one of the league’s youngest teams, to be in this position. But the win over Minnesota was the Grizzlies third straight and 10th in the last 16.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time,” said forward Jae Crowder, who had 14 points and eight rebounds. “A young team, I don’t want to get them too excited. Obviously, we are right where we need to be to gain ground in the playoffs.”
Jaren Jackson Jr finished with 21 points, including a trio of 3-pointers in fourth after entering the period 1 for 7 over the first three quarters. He also recorded three blocks.
Jackson, Morant and Brooks were the fourth-quarter catalysts as Memphis escaped an 8-point deficit in the final 7-plus minutes. Jackson had 11 down the stretch, while Brooks and Morant scored 10. The three were a combined 13 of 20 as Memphis overtook Minnesota outscoring the Wolves 37-28 in the fourth.
“Obviously, a great comeback win for us,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said, later adding: “We’re just continuing to remind them of what we’ve built in the last month or so. It’s a credit to them.”
Rookie Jarrett Culver, the sixth overall pick in last summer’s draft, led the Timberwolves with a career-high 24 points, converting 8 of 11 shots, 3 of 5 from outside the arc. Jeff Teague scored 18 points and handed out six assists for Minnesota, while Robert Covington scored 17 points. Andrew Wiggins had 15 points.