Ja Morant came into the Memphis Grizzlies game against the Brooklyn Nets having an All-Star caliber season. Morant leads his team in points per game with 25.1 in addition to 6.7 assists and 5.7 rebounds.
And although the Nets were at full strength, trying to reclaim the number one spot in the Eastern Conference, they were simply no match for a young and hungry Grizzlies squad, taking a 118-104 loss in regulation. Nets’ stars Kevin Durant and James Harden scored 26 and 19 points respectively, but it was Morant’s game-high 36 points that gave the Grizzlies the edge over Brooklyn.
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Kevin Durant Sends Strong Message to NBA About Ja Morant
After the loss, Kevin Durant had nothing but praise for the Grizzlies young star.
“He’s just controlling the games”, Durant said after the loss per SNY. Always been an efficient player who can run the point guard spot. He’s developed into a major scorer as well and he just plays with great pace out there, plays with joy and enthusiasm.”
“You see him blossoming in front of our eyes, since college he’s been on this trajectory and as a basketball fan you can’t wait to see what it’s like in the years going forward.”
Durant Believes Morant Can Be One of NBA’s Top Point Guards
Like Durant, Morant came into the NBA as the number two overall pick in his draft class and went on to win Rookie of the Year honors. The Nets forward can resonate with the young superstar. Back in September of 2020, KD made an appearance on JJ Redick’s “The Old Man & The Three” podcast and discussed Morant’s potential to become one of the best point guards in the NBA.
“When he came to Barclays, I saw him up close and his feel for the game and how he doesn’t force anything,” Durant said. “It doesn’t look like he forces anything. He’s such a graceful athlete I think he can be really good.”
Steve Nash Sounds off on Nets Loss to Clippers
Brooklyn’s loss to the Grizzlies has them tumbling out of contention for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Nets have lost their last three games, two of which were decided in crunch time. Nets head coach Steve Nash voiced his frustrations after their loss to a Los Angeles Clippers team missing Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, head coach Tyronn Lue, and several other key personnel.
“I just think [giving up] 71 points in the second half is unacceptable,” Nash said after the loss per ABC News. “We just never really had the care factor. Turned it up, we had a chance up nine, 10, 11 in the third and fourth at different times and just took our foot off the gas and got what we deserved, really. All those guys in there, I think they know it, they’re disappointed of course, but it’s a disappointment for all of us — that was obviously a very winnable game that we let get away.”
The Nets are currently 15th in the NBA’s rankings for opponent points scored, which confirms Nash’s point about giving up possessions and allowing teams to take advantage.
While they still sit in 2nd place in the conference, the Nets must improve defensively, as well as when it comes to closing out games. It is imperative if they are looking to be legit title contenders. They cannot afford to have a nonchalant attitude when playing any team or they will continue to rack up the losses as the season progresses.