The Grizzlies talked about these eight seeding games in Florida not being a playoff preview but actual playoff games. It meant one of the NBA’s youngest teams had to grow up quick if it wanted to hold on to the No. 8 seed.
For 48 minutes, the Grizzlies went toe-to-toe with the Portland Trail Blazers on Frida. They rallied in the third quarter and hung on in the fourth quarter to force overtime after Brandon Clarke reached as high as he could to tip in a shot with 32.1 seconds left.
But overtime showed why playoff basketball requires another level. Portland pulled away thanks to an 11-0 run to start the period and the Grizzlies’ 140-135 loss cut their lead for the No. 8 seed to 2½ games.
Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. took turns leading the charge in the third quarter but were quieted in overtime. Both combined for 24 points in the third but only had six points in the final period, as many as CJ McCollum had by himself.
McCollum, a longtime Grizzlies killer, had scored 33 points, including the first 3-pointer in overtime to start the Trail Blazers run. Jackson had 33 points, 13 in the third quarter.
Morant scored 22 points with 11 assists but the Grizzlies also missed 12 free throws in their first game back in four months.
The Grizzlies (32-34) will play San Antonio Spurs on Sunday (3 p.m.)
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