Sunday, June 13, 2021

Ja Morant isn’t celebrating historic 47-point Game 2 performance vs. Jazz: ‘Obviously it wasn’t enough’

Memphis Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant put on a tremendous show in Game 2 against the Utah Jazz Wednesday night, putting up 47 points on an efficient 15 of 26 from the field. Ultimately though, it wasn’t enough as the Grizzlies lost 141-129 as the Jazz evened up the series, but it wasn’t without a spirited effort from Morant.

Although Morant set a franchise record with his scoring outburst, and broke LeBron James‘ record for most points scored in the postseason by a player 21 years or younger, he’s not patting himself on the back at all.

After the game, Morant wasn’t too excited to dwell on the record.

“We lost,” Morant said. “Obviously it wasn’t enough.”

Although his team didn’t get the win, Morant’s accomplishment still deserves attention. He joined James, Luka Doncic, Magic Johnson and Tracy McGrady as the only players in league history to score 40 or more points in the postseason before turning 22 years old. But to the Jazz, it wasn’t all that surprising. Utah guard Donovan Mitchell who returned to the lineup after being sidelined since mid-April tipped his cap to Morant.

“Honestly, it’s not that surprising,” Mitchell said. “He’s a gamer. He goes out there and competes. …Tonight, he was aggressive from the jump. At a young age, for him to be able to have that is definitely special. That’s something that I respect about him and about his game. He doesn’t quit.”

“He doesn’t quit” is a perfect example of what we saw from Morant in Game 2. When Memphis fell behind by 20 points in the second half, it was Morant’s 13 points in the third quarter that helped the Grizzlies pull back to within two points. Memphis outscored Utah 43-29 in that quarter, but the Jazz were able to get back out to another big lead and take home the win.

Morant also didn’t shy away from attacking the rim, despite 7-1 center Rudy Gobert looming in the paint each time he tried to get buckets down low. At one point, it resulted in a highlight reel block by Gobert who stuffed the second-year guard’s dunk attempt. Morant cocked the ball back like he was going to dunk it through Gobert, but the big man had other plans.

It’s actually kind of crazy that Morant would even attempt a dunk like that with Gobert waiting and ready for him. He took off from a couple feet outside the restricted zone and was immediately met with a brick wall. But it just speaks to the fact that last year’s Rookie of the Year winner isn’t going to stop playing how he plays, regardless of who is guarding him.

“I’m not afraid,” Morant said. “I mean, that’s his job: to protect the rim. My job when I’m attacking the rim is to go finish. Obviously, he got a good block, but as you seen, I was right back inside the paint.”

Morant did get a sweet reverse alley-oop off in the fourth quarter:

Although the Grizzlies were playing catch up for a majority of the game, Memphis has shown in the first two contests of this series that they aren’t going to go away easily. As the series shifts to Memphis, Morant and the rest of the young Grizzlies will have a chance to surprise the Jazz again in what has become an entertaining first-round matchup.

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