Brandon Clarke scored 27 points and Ja Morant added 20 with nine assists as the Memphis Grizzlies rookies led the charge Wednesday in a 111-104 home victory over the Portland Trail Blazers during the last game for each team before the All-Star break.
Jonas Valanciunas and De’Anthony Melton each scored 12 points, while Valanciunas added 18 rebounds, as the Grizzlies won for the fourth time in their past five games and the eighth time in their past 10 contests.
Damian Lillard scored 20 points for the Blazers, but it was well under his 39.5 points-per-game average over his previous 11 contests. He entered with 29.7 points per game on the season. CJ McCollum scored 23 points and Anfernee Simons added 22 off the bench for Portland.
Lillard, who added 10 assists, left for good with 3:22 remaining in the game with what was later reported as a right groin strain. Per the Yahoo Sports report, the team plans on reevaluating him on Thursday and he is unlikely to play in Sunday’s All-Star Game at Chicago or participate in Saturday’s 3-point shooting contest.
The Blazers lost for the third time in their last four games, but have been much improved of late, entering with six victories in their previous nine games.
The Grizzlies extended their home winning streak to four games and are two games over .500 for the first time this season at 28-26. Memphis was 10 games under .500 at 6-16 on Dec. 7 and nine games under .500 at 13-22 on Jan. 2.
In a competitive first half where the lead changed hands eight times, the Grizzlies took a 67-63 lead at the break. The Grizzlies shot 57.4 percent in the first half and went 5 of 9 (55.6 percent) from 3-point range. The Blazers shot 44.0 percent in the first half.
Memphis took a 13-point lead in the third quarter, fended off a Portland run, and led 92-82 heading into the final period.
Dillon Brooks scored 11 points as the Grizzlies shot 47.4 percent in the game. Hassan Whiteside scored 16 points with 11 rebounds and Trevor Ariza had 12 points as the Blazers shot 37.1 percent. Carmelo Anthony had 15 rebounds for Portland.
Whiteside was ejected with 19.5 seconds remaining after earning his second technical foul.