LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Steven Adams grabbed the first game-winning basket of his career as the Memphis Grizzlies rolled to a franchise record-tying 11th straight victory on Wednesday with a 115-114 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the National Basketball Association.
New Zealand international Adams was on hand to tip-in at the basket after an attempted layup by Ja Morant with just under 17 seconds remaining of a thrilling battle at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.
Memphis small forward Dillon Brooks then conjured a crucial block to thwart Cavs point guard Darius Garland’s attempt at a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
“We’ve got a bunch of dogs over here who are ready to play every single night,” Brooks said afterwards.
Memphis’s 11th straight victory matched the team’s longest win streak set last season and leaves them with 31 wins and 13 defeats in the Western Conference, just behind leaders Denver (32-13).
The outcome of a see-saw game was in the balance up until the final seconds of a contest that saw the lead change hands no fewer than 16 times.
Memphis looked to be cruising towards another blowout after opening up a 19-point lead in the second quarter.
Cleveland hit back however to reel in the Memphis lead, and appeared poised for an upset victory after Evan Mobley’s hook shot put the Cavs up, 114-111, with just over a minute remaining.
Two Morant free throws got the Grizzlies to 114-113 however, and when Cleveland coughed up a costly turnover for a five-second time violation, Morant drove forward to set up the layup for Adams’ winning rebound — the first game-winner of the Kiwi’s nine-season NBA career.
“That was his first game-winner, he’s definitely hyped,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said of Adams.