March 8, 2020 / 3:50 AM / 22 days ago

Valanciunas, Grizzlies start fast, defeat Hawks

EditorsNote: Corrects spelling of Valanciunas in Graf 2; other minor edits

Mar 7, 2020; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague warms up before a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Jonas Valanciunas scored 12 of his 27 points in the first quarter to help the Memphis Grizzlies get off to a quick start, allowing them to cruise to a 118-101 win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

Valanciunas took advantage of Atlanta’s thin depth at center to record his 32nd double-double of the season. He was 10-for-13 from the field, went 7-for-10 at the foul line, and had 17 rebounds and three blocked shots.

It was the second time in a week that the Grizzlies have thumped the Hawks. Memphis won 127-88 in Atlanta on Monday.

Memphis has won four of its last five games and remains solidly in eighth place in the Western Conference. Atlanta has lost three in a row.

Memphis is now 7-3 and Atlanta is 2-10 in the second game of a back-to-back.

Memphis also got 24 points, five rebounds and six assists from Ja Morant, and 17 points off the bench from Josh Jackson. De’Anthony Melton added 13 points and three steals, and Kyle Anderson scored 12 points and added five assists.

Atlanta got leading scorer Trae Young back in the lineup after he missed Friday’s game with flu-like symptoms. Young, however, wasn’t at full strength, played only 29 minutes, and was limited to 16 points — 13 fewer than his season average — and four assists.

Atlanta’s top scorer was John Collins with 27 points (to go with eight rebounds). Kevin Huerter scored 11 and Jeff Teague, who picked up most of Young’s other minutes, chipped in with 10 points.

The Grizzlies took command in the first quarter by using a 24-4 run en route to a 38-18 lead at the end of the period. Memphis led 66-45 at halftime and 93-78 entering the fourth quarter.

The Hawks return home on Monday to begin a three-game homestand against the Charlotte Hornets. Memphis plays again at home on Tuesday against the Orlando Magic before starting a three-game road trip.

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