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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Paced by Morant’s triple-double, Grizzlies have too much bang for the Thunder

Terry Davis

Digesting the Memphis Grizzlies’ latest win – a 121-110 sprint past the Oklahoma City Thunder – is a process effectively handled by slicing it with Ja Morant’s triple-double: 26 points, 13 rebounds (career high) and 11 assists.

The FedExForum crowd savored the All-Star point guard’s second triple-double of the season and a franchise-record sixth overall on Wednesday night.

The hops of Ja Morant kept OKC jumping trying to keep him from scoring. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

The team showered Morant with praise in the locker room after the win, the fourth straight for Memphis (16-9). He returned the love, spreading the praise as easily as he did assists.

“I felt like I’ve been saying it since coming out of the draft, I love to pass the ball,” said Morant.

“When you are passing the ball, everybody’s happy, everybody’s out there playing with confidence. You just see a team out there playing with such joy, and you see how contagious it is when the ball moves around the court and the open looks we get.”

That’s pretty much what the great teams do, he added.

“Everybody is very unselfish. Share the ball, and everybody is out there happy and playing with joy. For me, that is the number one thing. I always say, ‘Points don’t really matter for me.’ If I’m going out there and getting my teammates involved, and we win the game, I’m happy.”

Morant’s earlier triple-double this season came against the New York Knicks on Nov. 27 in what Morant called “the bright lights” of Madison Square Garden. In setting the franchise record he surpassed Marc Gasol.

“An honor, big time. I know a lot of great players have been in this organization, and for me to be the franchise-record holder for triple-doubles, it’s crazy,” he said. “I feel like it’s something you got to earn, but I feel like my teammates are right up there with me, with history.

“Obviously, it’s my name, but without those guys, it wouldn’t have been possible. I wouldn’t have the assists, wouldn’t have been able to have the points without them out there on the floor; they open up so much for me on the floor. It also helps them as well and being able to knock down shots is big time.”

The bottom line?

“We just got to continue to keep building from this, continue to share the ball, and continue to play with confidence.”

The win was the second in a five-game stretch at FedExForum. The Grizzlies now are 10-2 at home, with the victory putting them only a half game out of first place in the Western Conference behind the Phoenix Suns and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Next up

The Grizzlies host the Detroit Pistons (7-20) on Friday at 7 p.m. Memphis defeated the Pistons handily on Sunday (122-112).


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