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Tyus Jones, defense lead Grizzlies past Clippers, 122-94

Tyus Jones scored a career-high 20 points, the Memphis defense held Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to sub-standard nights and the Grizzlies beat the Los Angeles Clippers 122-94 on Thursday night.

Dillon Brooks added 19 points for Memphis, and Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant had 16 each, with Valanciunas adding 15 rebounds. Jones was 9 of 11 from the floor, including 2 of 3 from outside the arc.

Leonard scored 17 points, and George and Serge Ibaka had 13 points each, although George was stymied by a 3-for-12 shooting night, part of the Clippers shooting 41%.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball after a dunk in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP PhotoBrandon Dill)

The teams will complete the two-game set Friday night at FedExForum

The Grizzlies, who lead the league in points in the paint, concentrated on that factor in the first half. While the Clippers are one of the strongest teams in the third quarter, it was Memphis that extended its lead to as 17 in the third as the Grizzlies continued to shoot above 55%.

Memphis managed to hold off a couple of pushes from the Clippers and take an 89-75 lead into the third.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks (24) handles the ball between Los Angeles Clippers forwards Kawhi Leonard (2) and Nicolas Batum (33) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP PhotoBrandon Dill)

When the Clippers cut the lead to 92-83 with 10 minutes left, Memphis rattled off a 12-2 run for a 104-85 advantage with 6:27 left.

TIP-INS

Clippers: After shuffling through 12 different lineups for various reasons, Los Angeles has returned to the Patrick Beverley-George-Leonard-Nicolas Batum-Ibaka starters the last four games. …Missed their first eight 3-point attempts. …Entered the night with eight games of shooting at least 50% from 3. They were 12 of 34 Thursday night.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) shoots against Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas (17) and guard Ja Morant (12)in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP PhotoBrandon Dill)

Grizzlies: Had 42 points in the paint at halftime marking the 76th consecutive game where they have reached at least 40 paint points, the longest streak on record since the NBA began tracking play-by-play data in 1996-97. They ended the night with 72. …Jones’ previous high was 19 points against Dallas on Feb. 5, 2020. …The 28-point margin was the largest ever over the Clippers. … Brooks returned to the starting lineup after missing three games with right thigh soreness. …The Grizzlies, who were held to 15 and 13 points in the first quarter the last two games, scored 24 in the opening frame.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) dunks the ball against Memphis Grizzlies center Xavier Tillman (2) as guard Dillon Brooks (24) looks on in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP PhotoBrandon Dill)

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) jumps to shoot against Memphis Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson (1) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP PhotoBrandon Dill)

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) handles the ball against Memphis Grizzlies guard Grayson Allen (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP PhotoBrandon Dill)

Memphis Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson (1) and guard Dillon Brooks (24) celebrate during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP PhotoBrandon Dill)