Ja Morant didn’t get the win on Wednesday.
But he delivered a message. The Memphis Grizzlies point guard savant is ready to build on his spectacular Rookie of the Year campaign.
Morant poured in a career-high 44 points as he set a Grizzlies scoring record in a season opener. He did it on 18-of-27 shooting from the field while adding a team-high nine assists. Morant also became one of six players in NBA history to score at least 40 points in the first game of his second season. The others: Elgin Baylor (52 in 1959), Walt Bellamy (43 in 1962), Wilt Chamberlain (42 in 1960), Shaquille O’Neal (42 in 1993) and Rick Barry (41 in 1966).
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, it wasn’t enough in a 131-119 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Morant’s sensational self-pass
But Morant gave all he had in the effort, including this solo alley-oop in traffic off the glass that would play well in a dunk contest.
All DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray could do was stare helplessly and flat-footed in the lane as Morant proceeded to dunk on them.
It was just the latest example of basketball wizardry from the 6-foot-3 21-year-old who quickly staked his turf as one of the game’s most exciting players last season.
Morant averaged 17.8 points, 7.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 47.7% from the field as the NBA’s top rookie. If Wednesday’s any indication, he’s ready to take that game to a new level.
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