Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook reaches out for the ball as Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant falls to the ground at FedExForum on December 29, 2021 in Memphis, Tennessee. (AFP)

Ja Morant scored 41 points to power the Memphis Grizzlies to a third straight NBA victory on Wednesday, a 104-99 come-from-behind win over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Morant, whose last-second basket lifted the Grizzles to a 114-113 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday, scored a career-high six three-pointers.

He spearheaded the Grizzlies’ comeback from a 14-point third-quarter deficit, delivering 25 points in the second half as Memphis consolidated their fourth-place position in the Western Conference.

The Phoenix Suns, meanwhile, tied the Golden State Warriors atop the West with an 115-97 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers were ultimately undone by 18 turnovers in an often sloppy performance that wasted a stellar 37-point effort from James.

James, on the eve of his 37th birthday, tied a career-high with eight three-pointers and pulled down 13 rebounds.

Along with James’s 14th game this season of 30 or more points Russell Westbrook added a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

But when the Grizzlies offense warmed up in the second half the Lakers couldn’t respond and lost for the sixth time in seven games just a day after ending a five-game skid.

It was 22-year-old Morant’s second big game against the Lakers this season, after he scored 40 points against them in October.

“The guy is a true superstar,” said Lakers coach David Fizdale, who is standing in as head coach with Frank Vogel sidelined by COVID.

The Lakers had a chance to tie it up in the waning seconds but couldn’t get a shot off.

“Ja was spectacular once again versus us,” James said. “And we just lost a game we could have won.

“We’ve got to cut down the careless turnovers, where literally you just turn the ball over and there’s no pressure, no reason for it — those are the ones that get us in trouble.”

In Phoenix, Devin Booker scored 38 points for the Suns, who snapped a two-game losing streak and match the Golden State Warriors for best record in the league at 27-7.

Booker, 25, became the seventh-youngest NBA player to reach 10,000 career points as the Suns bounced back from losses to the Warriors and Grizzlies.

JaVale McGee and Cameron Payne scored 16 points each for the Suns.

LaVine leads Bulls

Ty Jerome scored 24 points to lead the Thunder, who have had five players sidelined by COVID-19 since they fell to the Suns in Phoenix last Thursday.

Elsewhere, Zach LaVine scored 25 points for Chicago as the Bulls beat the short-handed Atlanta Hawks for the second time in three days, 131-117.

The Bulls pushed their winning streak to five games against a Hawks team that was without 15 players due to COVID health and safety protocols and injuries.

The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Celtics 91-82 in Boston, where Eric Bledsoe scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to help the visitors get over the line.

Marcus Morris led Los Angeles with 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Terance Mann and Luke Kennard scored 17 points apiece for the Clippers, who snapped a two-game skid.

Jaylen Brown scored 30 points for Boston but had zero assists.

Rubio out of season with torn knee ligament

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio will miss the rest of the NBA season with a torn ligament in his left knee, the team said Wednesday.

Spain’s Rubio was hurt in Cleveland’s 108-104 loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans on Tuesday.

He was driving toward the basket and slipped as he planted his right foot, his left knee buckling as he fell to the ground with less than three minutes left in the contest.

Rubio was carried off the floor by teammates Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro.

Rubio, who is under contract through this season, had an MRI exam on Wednesday that revealed the severity of the injury.

The Cavaliers said they would update the 31-year-old’s status “as appropriate.”

Rubio also tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during his rookie NBA season in Minnesota in 2012.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/12/30/morant-powers-grizzlies-lavine-leads-bulls/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=morant-powers-grizzlies-lavine-leads-bulls)