Tagged in: ja morant

Ja Morant, with blurred vision, matches playoff career-high 47 points as Memphis Grizzlies even series with Golden State Warriors

All Ja Morant needed was one good eye to match his playoff career-high of 47 points and even the Memphis Grizzlies’ series with the Golden State Warriors.

Playing with blurred vision in his left eye after being poked in the third quarter, Morant scored the Grizzlies’ final 15 points to lift them to a 106-101 win in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series at FedEx Forum.

Morant concluded with a spectacular 47 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds to help Memphis avoid falling behind 0-2 in this best-of-seven series.

He joined LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as the only players with multiple 45-point games in the playoffs before turning 23 years old, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

And he did so after leaving the game at the end of the third quarter complaining, “I can’t see.”

“I still can’t [see],” Morant said when asked about his vision. “I can see on the middle. I can’t see on the outside. I got punched trying to get the rebound.” Morant added: “I got another good eye over here — 20-20 vision right here. Thank God for my right eye.”

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The Grizzlies trailed 97-93 with 3:50 remaining when Morant was in the midst of his fourth-quarter takeover. With starter Dillon Brooks ejected in the opening minutes due to a flagrant 2 foul on Gary Payton II, and Jaren Jackson Jr. having fouled out with 3:59 left, Morant scored on a second consecutive driving layup.

He then buried a 26-foot 3 and a 7-foot floater. Morant also drew a foul on Draymond Green as the two were chasing after a rebound that Green grabbed, but officials called a foul when he bumped into Morant with 49.8 seconds left. Morant made two free throws and then sank another driving floater to push the Grizzlies up 104-101 with 30.7 seconds left.

“I feel like I’ve just watched him transform into a true closer,” power forward Xavier Tillman said.

Morant sealed the game from the free throw line to even it up.

“Definitely big time,” Morant said of where this game ranks for him. “I felt like this was a must-win game for us. For me, I was frustrated with myself missing that layup in Game 1.”

Morant, whose career high is 52 points, was frustrated after missing a driving scoop layup over Klay Thompson and a trailing Payton at the end of Game 1’s 117-116 loss to Golden State.

Morant stated Warriors star Stephen Curry told him and Jackson after that loss that “it is going to be a battle. We are going to have some fun.”

As streamers fell from the ceiling after the buzzer on Tuesday night, Morant walked by Curry. He had returned the favor and told Curry, “We are going to have some fun.”

“I was able to return that message tonight,” Morant said. ” … I am having a lot of fun.”

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Grizzlies beat Warriors 123-95, tighten hold on 2nd in West

Desmond Bane scored 22 points, De’Anthony Melton and Dillon Brooks added 21 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies solidified their hold on second place in the Western Conference with a 123-95 triumph over the short-handed Golden State Warriors on Monday night.

Kyle Anderson added 13 points for Memphis, which holds a five-game lead over the third-place Warriors in the conference. The Grizzlies won their fifth consecutive and for the ninth time in 10 games.

Jordan Poole led Golden State with 25 points, and Moses Moody finished with 18. Jonathan Kuminga scored 14 points as Golden State dropped its third straight and lost for the sixth time in seven matches.

Golden State played without leading scorer Stephen Curry, who has missed six games with a left foot sprain. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Otto Porter Jr. also sat out under various injury management situations, and facing the second game of a back-to-back.

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That put the Warriors in an unfavorable position facing the Grizzlies.

Meanwhile, Memphis was without leading scorer Ja Morant, who missed his fifth consecutive game with right knee soreness, and Jaren Jackson Jr., who sat with right thigh soreness.

But Memphis has played well in Morant’s absence, winning the previous four after Morant was injured.

Neither team was shooting well to start, and Memphis was a step slow to 50-50 balls. The teams combined to make only 13 of 45 shots in the first quarter. Both were still mired at 25% each early in the second quarter before scoring started picking up — for Memphis.

Not Golden State.

The Grizzlies shot 59% in the second, including making 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. With the Warriors still stuck at 25% shooting, Memphis outscored the Warriors 48-21 in the second and held a 63-37 lead at the break.

By the end of the half, Warriors coach Steve Kerr vehemently argued a no-call on the final play and was assessed two quick technicals, getting ejected for the second half.

Poole helped the Warriors cut into the Memphis’ lead slightly with 13 points in the third, but Golden State never got within less than 18 points. Memphis carried a 95-67 lead into the final quarter.

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Ja Morant breaks own Memphis Grizzlies record with 52 points, dazzles crowd with highlight plays

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant threw down a massive dunk over 7-footer Jakob Poeltl, knocked down a buzzer-beater without touching the ground and then broke his own franchise record for points in a regular-season game just two days after setting it.

Morant scored 52 points on 22-of-30 shooting to help the Grizzlies defeat the San Antonio Spurs 118-105 on Monday night.

The arena was still buzzing from Morant’s fast-break slam late in the second quarter when Steven Adams delivered a length-of-the-court pass to Morant, who caught the ball in midair and nailed a buzzer-beater from the left baseline for a 68-58 halftime lead.

Morant stated that shot was “something I’ll probably never be able to do again.” But he added that if Adams is the quarterback from that type of throw, there’s a bit of wide receiver in Morant’s ability.

“I’m only a red zone guy,” Morant said. “Fade route. Jump ball.”

Morant also hit a 3-pointer from near the logo with the shot clock running down, creating a load of highlights from a memorable night.

“It’s got to be the 50,” Morant said when asked what was most memorable, adding: “I’m thankful for my teammates, my coaches. They believe in me and have all the confidence in the world that I’ll make the right plays.”

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Morant added 13 consecutive points during the fourth quarter to break the game open, following up a career-best 46 points in a win Saturday at Chicago that initially set the franchise record. He hit all four 3-point tries versus the Spurs as Memphis won its second consecutive.

Morant’s performance was the first 50-point game in Grizzlies franchise history.

His previous career-high was 47, set in the first round of the playoffs last season.

“He’s at the rim every night, but the way he put it together tonight, he was just in attack mode from the jump,” Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton said. “He got whatever he wanted, and it looked easy out there. It was just special to be out there and watch that.”

The win pulled the Grizzlies to just two games behind the Golden State Warriors in the loss column for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

The Spurs’ loss left coach Gregg Popovich one game short of tying Don Nelson for the most regular-season victories by an NBA coach.

“He’s a beautiful player,” Popovich said of Morant. “What else can you say about him? It’s not just that he’s athletic. Everybody says, ‘He’s athletic.’ Somebody says, ‘He’s a freak of nature,’ because he’s so fast. … But he makes decisions. He knows what is going on on the court.

“So, you combine that cerebral part of his game with his athleticism and you’ve got a special kid.” The Grizzlies built the lead to 13 early in the fourth, their largest of the game at that point, but the Spurs were within 104-99 near the midway point of the fourth. That’s when Morant scored 13 straight.

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Grizzlies throttle Thunder by NBA-record 73-point margin

The game was long decided and the Memphis starters were relegated to cheerleaders on the bench when John Konchar got a steal and headed to the basket.

His right-handed dunk gave the Grizzlies a 145-67 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder with 3:02 left and a new franchise record for points in a match.

That 78-point advantage was Memphis’ biggest lead on Thursday night, but by the time it was over the Grizzlies were still 73 points ahead. Their 152-79 victory over the Thunder shattered the NBA record for the largest margin of victory.

“At that moment, I didn’t know it was a franchise record,” Konchar said. “I just kind of saw the lane, and I dunked it. But it’s awesome.”

The 73-point margin easily topped the previous mark, which was Cleveland’s 68-point win over Miami. The Cavaliers topped the Heat 148-80 on Dec. 17, 1991.

“Tonight is not necessarily who we are,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “I think we’ve definitely shown that from a competitive standpoint. This isn’t indicative of who our team is.”

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Memphis used 12 players and nine of them reached double figures in scoring, with Jaren Jackson Jr.’s 27 points leading the way for the Grizzlies. Memphis was without its best player, injured guard Ja Morant.

It was 72-36 at halftime and the Grizzlies just kept adding to the lead.

“I think there was some slippage defensively and I think before you know it, teams are in a rhythm and the game is out of hand,” Oklahoma City’s Mike Muscala said. “We didn’t fight, obviously. You’d rather go out fighting. You would rather go out putting your best foot forward and playing together.”

The Thunder flirted with being on the wrong end of the record last season, trailing Indiana by 67 points on May 1 before rallying — such as it was — to lose by merely 57 points, 152-95.

This was worse. Historically worse.

The Grizzlies set a franchise record for shooting, making 62.5% of their shots. De’Anthony Melton scored 19 points, Santi Aldama scored 18 and John Konchar scored 17 for the Grizzlies, and none of those three players even started.

“Man, it feels great. It feels great to be in the history books, especially in front of our home crowd,” Melton stated. “And we did it one through 15. Everybody contributed, everybody played hard and we all got to get in the game. So, it’s always a blessing.

“We knew with (Morant) going down what we had to do,” Melton said. “We had to step up.”

No Memphis starter played more than 21 minutes. Lu Dort led the Thunder with 15 points, and Oklahoma City shot only 33%.

It was 12-8 after five minutes. From there, there was no stopping Memphis. The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder by 15 points in each of the four quarters.

It was the third consecutive game the Grizzlies have led from start to finish.

The Thunder lost their eighth straight as they continued to play without a number of players, including leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered concussion protocol earlier Thursday. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 39 points against the Rockets on Wednesday night but suffered a blow to the head late in the match.

Point guard Josh Giddey, who averages 10.4 points and 5.5 assists, sat out with a non-COVID-19 illness, and the remaining players couldn’t fill the void in Oklahoma City’s offense.

The Thunder had been competitive in their seven straight losses before Thursday night. Their largest margin of defeat was 13 points.

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Grizzlies send Houston to its 12 straight defeat 136-102

Ja Morant had 22 points, six rebounds and six assists, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 18 points and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated Houston 136-102 Monday night, sending the Rockets to their 12th consecutive loss.

Dillon Brooks finished with 16 points, and Kyle Anderson added 15 as Memphis snapped a three-game losing streak. The 136 points was a season-high for the Grizzlies. Brooks and other Grizzlies said a renewed energy meant better defense.

“That should never die,” Brooks said. “The energy every single game, every single day at practice. …We should never lack energy.”

Jalen Green led the Rockets with 15 points, while Jae’Sean Tate added 14 points and nine rebounds. Houston, again was stymied by poor shooting, connecting on only 38%.

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Neither team entered Monday night playing well.

Memphis struggled in its previous three games – all losses by double-digit margins to Charlotte, Phoenix and New Orleans. Meanwhile, over the last four matches, the Rockets have lost by an average of 14.3 points a game.

The misery continued early for the Rockets, who just couldn’t match the Grizzlies, even though Memphis had its own problems with turnovers early. But whatever issues Memphis was dealing with, the Rockets had more with a dozen miscues. The Rockets shot a respectable 44% in the half, but Memphis connected on 56% building its lead.

A 20-0 run in the third quarter, part of Memphis outscoring the Rockets 31-15 in the frame, guaranteed Houston’s losing streak would continue for at least another game as the Grizzlies lead reached 40 in the second half.

“I feel like we played great defense,” Morant said. “We held them to a 15-point quarter. Obviously got to be better rebounding the ball, especially when we play hard defense to get a stop, which we need to get out and run.”

Rockets coach Stephen Silas dealt with a similar lengthy losing streak last season, but there are differences with this skid. “It’s right at the beginning of the season, and we’re trying to find ourselves and trust ourselves,” the Rockets coach said.

“The message is the same. It’s the process. It’s the work, the preparation, the trust. All of those things and trusting that if you do things the right way, we’ll get out of the streak.”

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