The Memphis Grizzlies got their first win of the regular season on Sunday evening, beating the Brooklyn Nets 134-133 in overtime. And while it was Ja Morant’s night, ultimately it was Jae Crowder’s game.
Morant delivered a sizzling 17-point quarter that was only eclipsed by his overtime-forcing block on Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving at the end of regulation. But after struggling offensively for much of the game, it was Crowder who drained a buzzer-beater to send his teammates to the win – and FedExForum into a tizzy.
“We’re coming together,” said Crowder. “Obviously, a win always brings a team a little closer together and to get that first win for coach speaks volumes for him.”
Having wowed fans with flashes of brilliance in the preseason, Morant was totally on for the night, and particularly in the fourth quarter. The rookie point guard flexed and howled as he attacked the basket for dunks and acrobatic layups. The crowd fed on his energy and he fed it right back. Especially that last possession against Irving.
“Tonight, I was just trying to take on the challenge with a great player,” Morant said of his late game block. “On that last play, Coach was just telling us to stay down and once he pump-faked, it was down and I knew the shot was coming.”
Irving, himself once a up-and-coming star in the NBA, said Morant came out aggressive as expected.
“He got downhill a few times and finished over our bigs,” said Irving, who finished with 37 points, seven points and seven assists. “He did pretty great at what he’s known for and that is getting in the paint and playing with a lot of passion.
“I think he showed that tonight,” Irving said.
Jaren Jackson Jr. once again struggled with fouls, scoring 12 points and six rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Jonas Valanciunas notched a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. And the Grizzlies bench added 49 points including 10 points and seven boards from Brandon Clarke, 13 points from Kyle Anderson and an unexpected (and unexpectedly necessary) strong night from veteran Solomon Hill, who chipped in 13 points and five rebounds.
Check out the clips from head coach Taylor Jenkins postgame press conference, as well as lockerroom video from Morant, Crowder and Jackson. And, of course, check out my Three Point play, livestreamed on Facebook after the game!