What can’t Ja Morant do?
In his 34 minutes on the floor, the point-guard dunked over a seven-foot defender, hit an incredible buzzer-beater and had enough time to set a new franchise record for points, a record he broke just two days before.
Morant finished with 52 points – surpassing the 46 points he initially broke the record with just two days earlier – on 22-of-30 shooting.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich – who, as a result of Morant’s remarkable performance, remains one game short of equaling Don Nelson’s record for the most regular-season wins by an NBA coach – was full of praise for the 22-year-old.
“He’s a beautiful player,” Popovich told the media. “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.”
Box office player
Morant has been having a breakout season as an NBA star.
The 2020 Rookie of the Year was named an NBA All-Star for the first time in his career and has been the driving force behind an improving Grizzlies team.
And on Monday against the Spurs, he showed why he’s become one of the most box office players in the league.
First, he hit a deep three-pointer which got the crowd’s attention.
With two minutes left in the second quarter, he electrified the building when he threw down a massive slam dunk over seven-foot Spurs center Jakob Pöltl.
But his most impressive feat was still to come.
With 0.4 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Grizzlies center Steven Adam heaved the ball to the other end of the court in the direction of Morant.
Showing remarkable body control and accuracy, Morant caught the ball near the left corner of the court, shot it and scored – all without touching the floor. He was mobbed by his teammates in celebration as he left the court to a hero’s exit.
And he continued his dominance in the second half, putting the Spurs to the sword with his franchise-record 52 points.
When asked what was his most memorable moment of the evening, Morant said: “It’s got to be the 50.”
“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.”
Such was his performance, Morant was praised by NBA legend Allen Iverson.
Iverson, the 2001 NBA Most Valuable Player, posted a picture of a Morant jersey hung on his Maurice Podoloff Trophy – given to the winner of the MVP – with the caption: “Sooner or Later!!!”
Morant responded to the picture, tweeting: “Pass the torch OG.”