Ja Morant didn’t walk out of Vivint Arena on Wednesday night with a win, but he absolutely earned the respect of his opponent.
The Grizzlies guard set a franchise record with 47 points in a 141-129 loss against the Jazz in Game 2 of their first-round series. Morant shot 15 of 26 from the field and 15 of 20 from the free throw line, throwing in seven assists and four rebounds in 43 minutes.
In addition to rewriting Memphis’ history books, Morant also set an NBA playoff record for most points by a player under the age of 22. The 2019-20 Rookie of the Year award winner won’t turn 22 until Aug. 10.
Despite Morant’s best efforts, the Grizzlies were unable to keep up with a Jazz offensive attack that was bolstered by the return of Donovan Mitchell, who had missed Utah’s past 17 games, including a frustrating Game 1 loss. Mitchell got the postgame interview treatment after totaling 25 points in 26 minutes, and he had nothing but praise for Morant’s performance.
“We guarded well. I mean, Ja, give credit to Ja,” Mitchell said. “He had 50, damn near. He’s a hell of a player. I respect the hell out of his game. He fought, but we fought. We’re going to continue to fight. It’s 1-1. They came in here and stole one, so we’ve got to go back there and take care of business.”
Of course, Morant wasn’t satisfied with the individual numbers. He wanted to head back to Memphis with a 2-0 series lead.
What will Morant and Mitchell do for an encore? We’ll find out on Saturday when the Grizzlies and Jazz meet at the FedEx Forum for Game 3.
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