MEMPHIS – With a five-game winning streak on the line and James Harden’s Houston Rockets in town, first-year NBA coach Taylor Jenkins let his rookie point guard – Ja Morant – play the most minutes of his early career: 37.

And the former Murray State Racer and 2019 No. 2 NBA draftee delivered to the tune of 26 points on 10-for-11 shooting from the floor, 3-for-3 shooting from the stripe, eight assists, five rebounds, one steal, one block and just two turnovers, in what wound up being a 121-110 victory over the current Western Conference 5-seed at FedEx Forum.

The Grizzlies (19-22) are now riding a six-game winning streak – third longest in the NBA – with Morant posting 20.3 ppg, 56-for-92 from the floor (60.9%), 8-for-18 from three (44.4%), 22-for-25 from the stripe (88%), 4.4 rpg, 8.9 apg, 0.9 spg and 4.8 topg through seven games in January.

He scored 11 points in the first and fourth quarters against the Rockets (26-13), who did get 41 points from former MVP James Harden and were again playing without Morant’s icon: Russell Westbrook. And five of his eight assists came in a lead-grabbing second quarter – all for baskets within 10 feet of the hoop.

Twice he hit stepback 3-pointers against Harden, first cutting it to 19-13 in the first quarter before later icing the game in the final frame to make it 114-105 with 2:17 to go.

Morant has typically been limited to 28-to-30 minutes per game, as part of a load management protocol to protect the 20-year-old budding phenom.

But Tuesday, Morant couldn’t miss – becoming the first rookie in NBA history to score 25-plus points with eight-plus assists while shooting 90% or better from the field.

“Ja is the ultimate competitor, and he understands when he’s in and out of the game,” Jenkins said. “Obviously, we made the call to roll with him. He was making a huge impact not just on the offensive end, but on the defensive end. Executing solid coverages. Our team started rotating great on Harden’s drives, and we had forwards getting (Ja) the ball and getting out running.

“He made some high-level decisions late in the game with a lot of different coverages and a lot of different matchups thrown at him. But credit to him, obviously in a game like this, we have the confidence he’s going to come through in the clutch.

“He’s a confident guy, and he loves the game of basketball. He loves to go out there and compete. And if he’s adding a little bit of extra flair, hopefully it’s leading to good things more often than not. He just goes out and has fun.”

Morant’s Tuesday night efforts follow his 10-11-7 stat-line against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 12 – a 122-102 home win.

MEMPHIS 121, HOUSTON 110

HOUSTON Min (FG)M-A (FT)M-A (REB)O-T A PF PTS

McLemore 38:16 5-12 0-0 0-3 0 1 14

Tucker 38:21 0-1 0-0 1-7 3 5 0

Capela 33:08 6-7 4-4 3-16 2 5 16

Harden 39:08 13-37 10-11 3-6 6 3 41

Rivers 26:32 3-7 3-4 0-2 5 4 10

Gordon 31:41 9-19 1-1 1-4 1 3 23

House Jr. 26:28 1-3 2-2 1-3 0 2 4

Hartenstein 3:59 0-0 2-2 0-0 1 0 2

Chandler 2:27 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Totals 240:00 37-86 22-24 9-41 18 23 110

Percentages: FG .430, FT .917.

3-Point Goals: 14-45, .311 (Harden 5-19, McLemore 4-10, Gordon 4-12, Rivers 1-3, House Jr. 0-1).

Team Rebounds: 9. Team Turnovers: 1.

Blocked Shots: 1 (Harden).

Turnovers: 15 (Capela 4, Tucker 3, House Jr. 2, McLemore 2, Rivers 2, Gordon, Harden).

Steals: 4 (McLemore 2, Gordon, Tucker).

Technical Fouls: None

MEMPHIS Min (FG)M-A (FT)M-A (REB)O-T A PF PTS

Anderson 17:26 0-3 0-0 1-4 0 2 0

Jackson Jr. 30:13 6-16 1-1 0-2 1 6 15

Valanciunas 27:55 8-14 3-4 2-6 2 2 19

Brooks 31:08 8-17 2-2 1-4 3 3 24

Morant 36:53 10-11 3-3 0-5 8 1 26

Melton 26:04 4-9 3-4 1-6 4 1 12

Clarke 23:56 6-7 2-2 1-7 2 2 14

Allen 21:22 2-5 2-3 0-2 4 2 6

Hill 13:56 1-5 0-0 1-6 4 0 3

Jones 11:07 1-3 0-0 0-0 1 0 2

Totals 240:00 46-90 16-19 7-42 29 19 121

Percentages: FG .511, FT .842.

3-Point Goals: 13-37, .351 (Brooks 6-10, Morant 3-4, Jackson Jr. 2-7, Hill 1-3, Melton 1-4, Clarke 0-1, Valanciunas 0-2, Allen 0-3, Anderson 0-3).

Team Rebounds: 6. Team Turnovers: 2.

Blocked Shots: 9 (Brooks 2, Jackson Jr. 2, Anderson, Hill, Melton, Morant, Valanciunas).

Turnovers: 7 (Clarke 3, Morant 2, Jackson Jr., Valanciunas).

Steals: 6 (Jackson Jr. 3, Brooks, Clarke, Morant).

Technical Fouls: Hill, 6:42 fourth; Jackson Jr., 4:46 fourth

Houston 37 24 22 27 — 110

Memphis 32 35 18 36 — 121

A: 16,181 (18,119). T: 2:09.

Morant Scores

1Q

Two free throws (Memphis leads 2-0, 11:23 1Q)

Driving layup (Memphis leads 4-2, 10:44 1Q)

Two-point shot (Jonas Valanciunas assists, Houston leads 9-6, 9:12 1Q)

7-foot floating jump shot (Houston leads 19-10, 7:21 1Q)

3-pointer (Houston leads 19-13, 6:45 1Q)

2Q

Two-point shot (Memphis leads 57-47, 6:41 2Q)

3Q

Two-point shot (Memphis leads 85-80, 51.6 3Q)

4Q

8-foot floating jump shot (Memphis leads 87-83, 11:37 4Q)

25-foot 3-pointer (Solomon Hill assists, Memphis leads 104-96, 5:31 4Q)

12-foot pullup jumper and free throw (Memphis leads 111-102, 3:15 4Q)

26-foot stepback 3-pointer (Memphis leads 114-105, 2:17 4Q)

Morant Assists

1Q

De’Anthony Melton makes 26-foot 3-pointer (Houston leads 20-16, 6:17 1Q)

2Q

Dillon Brooks layup (Houston leads 39-34, 11:10 2Q)

Jaren Jackson Jr. layup (Tied 41-all, 10:06 2Q)

Jaren Jackson Jr. dunk (Memphis leads 59-47, 6:17 2Q)

Jonas Valanciunas 9-foot two-point shot (Memphis leads 64-56, 1:49 2Q)

Brandon Clark dunk (Memphis leads 66-59, 30.5 2Q)

3Q

(none)

4Q

Jaren Jackson Jr. alley-oop (Memphis leads 91-86, 10:17 4Q)

Solomon Hill 3-pointer (Memphis leads 95-92, 7:39 4Q)

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