LAS VEGAS – Brandon Clarke dunked with 10.7 left in overtime as the Memphis Grizzlies beat the New Orleans Pelicans 88-86 on Sunday in the NBA Summer League semifinals.
The Grizzlies will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night in the title game. Minnesota beat Brooklyn 85-77 in the second semifinal.
Clarke had 23 points – including four in overtime – and 14 rebounds, leading Memphis. Tyler Harvey, whose 3-pointer tied it in regulation, added 13 points, and Bruno Caboclo had 12. Harvey, who spent the past two years playing in Europe, led the nation in scoring in 2014-15, his final year at Eastern Washington.
“We had some moments in the game today where we couldn’t score, things weren’t going the right way, we were trying (but) our legs were not there,” said Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins, the only NBA head coach to also coach his summer league team. “(Brandon) was just being super verbal with the team … I’m really proud of how he kept the team together. Obviously the plays he makes down the stretch are very impressive.”
Clarke, who was taken with the 21st pick in the draft via a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, wasn’t able to participate with the Grizzlies until the NBA cleared the deal and it became official July 6. In four games, he’s averaging 12.5 points and 7.3 rebounds.
“It’s pretty much getting off all that rust I kind of had on me,” Clarke said. “It was tough at the start because I couldn’t really do much with the team. Every time that I play basketball I want to win. I think that we all just kind of feel that as a team. Even though this is not like a real NBA tournament versus the big NBA dudes, we also want to win.”
Trevon Bluiett led the Pelicans with 16 points. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Marcos Louzada Silva each had 14 and Kenrich Williams added 10.
New Orleans reached the final four despite missing No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, who took a knee-to-knee hit in the second quarter of the team’s first game on opening night and was shut down for the remainder of the league.
“We started this Summer League off being about Zion Williamson; once he was out, then it became something different,” New Orleans summer league coach Fred Vinson said. “This group really bonded together. They supported each other. Guys who were playing on the floor, guys who weren’t playing on the floor, they supported each other. I wanted those guys to become a team.”
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