Yes, Morant was that close for the Memphis Grizzlies to take victory from the jaws of defeat. After the Sacramento Kings moved up double digits in the fourth quarter, Morant went to scorched earth, scoring 20 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter to put Memphis within striking distance late in the game.
However, Morant may have bitten off more than he could chew.
With the Grizzlies, 109-108, and Kings guard Malik Monk on the charity strip, Ja Morant walked behind Monk and talked a bit. Morant kept yelling at Monk, telling him “don’t miss,” in an attempt to put a stop to the reverse psychological shenanigans. However, Monk remained unfazed as he calmly sunk two free throws to take the lead to a safer three points.
De’Aaron Fox comes on for possession, which sees the Grizzlies try to level the game with a three-ball bewilderingly dirty Morant on a three-point try and sent the 23-year-old guard, who by that point was 8/12 off the free-throw line, onto the charity strip with a chance to send the game into overtime. But Morant didn’t follow his own advice not to be missed as he decisively edged the first freebie.
Ja, Malik Monk kept saying, “Don’t miss,” while shooting FT one up with four seconds left…Monk hit both
Ja later went to the line and had a chance to equalize and missed 2/3. kings win. 😬 pic.twitter.com/HcpxLZVl6J
– Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 23, 2022
To make matters worse, Ja Morant left the free throw circle before the ball even touched the rim in his final attempt to save the game for Memphis. De’Aaron Fox then drove the final nail into the Grizzlies’ coffins after running perfectly off the line to extend the lead to four, 113-109, which ended up being the final score of the game.
Still, Morant’s performance should be cause for excitement for Grizzlies fans, his free throw struggles notwithstanding. The 23-year-old all-star was initially considered a week-to-week after spraining his ankle against the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Morant made a miraculous recovery when he took the court just four days after his injury, and he went on to tally 34 points, seven boards and six dimes in 34 minutes of action.
The Grizzlies will look to get back on track against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night while the Kings try to keep the beam shining as they take on the Atlanta Hawks on the second night of a back-to-back game.