Ja Morant was the best player on the court in the game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets today, and that’s saying something considering he shared the floor with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Morant got off to a hot start in the first quarter, scoring 16 points and dishing out four assists while making all five field goal attempts and both of his attempts beyond the arc. He had 24 points by halftime.
Morant showed everything in his bag of tricks against the Nets. He opened scoring with a tough double-clutch drive.
He also started showing off his range early in the game.
His passing ability was also on display.
Oh, and his areal ability was also on display as he showed the ability to slam in alley-oops of his own.
The Nets went on a 12-2 run in the second quarter before Morant came back on, which helped them go into halftime with the lead, but Morant’s teammates stepped up in the third quarter, opening up with a 23-5 run that suddenly turned a 64-69 deficit into a 85-74 lead.
Desmond Bane starred in that big run and finished the game with an impressive 38 points and seven assists while shooting 8 of 11 from three. Bane was feeling it so much in the third quarter that he decided to channel his inner Steph Curry with a ludicrous 37-foot triple in the final seconds of the period. Bane really feeds off of the space that Morant’s attack creates, and he was the beneficiary of numerous Morant assists today.
Morant came back into the game with 8:16 left and the Grizzlies up 117-105 and he and Bane cleaned house on the way to a 134-124 win.
The Grizzlies’ well-balanced offense continues to hurt teams and should worry the rest of the league. Morant’s continued improvement, which may put him in contention for an MVP this season, is a perfect complement to his teammates. His improved three-point shooting, should it hold throughout the season, will also make him virtually unguardable considering how good he is when driving to the basket. He’s looking very comfortable shooting that three as well, and a long-range dagger in the final minute put the game out of reach.
Morant finished the game with 38 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals while finishing tied for a game-high plus/minus rating with +20. He shot 12 of 22 overall and 4 of 6 from long range. That performance, along with Bane’s contributions, offset a valiant effort from Durant and Irving who combined for 74 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.