Nets don’t have to face injured Ja Morant vs. Grizzlies

The Nets caught a break that Kevin Durant won’t appreciate.

Yes Morant, one of the brightest young stars in the game and one Durant gushed about a day earlier, will miss Wednesday’s game against the Nets with right knee pain, the Grizzlies said Tuesday.

The 22-year-old left Friday’s Atlanta game with knee pain and will sit for a second straight game, increasing the Nets’ odds of winning but likely disappointing Durant and Nets fans who wanted to catch a glimpse of the show.

The electric point guard took a leap in his third NBA season and emerged as one of the best in the game. He’s already been dubbed a “future Hall of Famer” by Durant — actually, the Nets star said the Grizzlies star is a bunch of different Hall of Famers rolled into one.

“When he plays,” Durant said Monday before the Nets visited Memphis, “I see two, three, four different Hall of Famers in his game.”

At full health, Morant can beat teams by blowing past, jumping over, or overtaking them. He always seems to be the best athlete in a field of sporting phenomena.

Grizzlies star Ja Morant will not play against the Nets on Wednesday.
USA TODAY sports

“Of [Allen] Iverson, he could do one [Michael] Jordan-like layup or he could run across the court like one [Russell] Westbach or [Derrick] Rose,” Durant said of Morant, who was an All-Star for the first time this season. “His float game is among the best ever played.”

As the point guard’s game has skyrocketed (27.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists per game), the Grizzlies (49-23) have filled in around him and become a contender in the west, who enters the matchup alone in second place. Without Morant, Memphis will demand more from wings Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks.

Durant and the Nets had seen Morant up close once this season — when the former Murray State star grabbed 36 points in 34 minutes of a Grizzlies win on Jan. 3 — and if the teams don’t meet in the Finals, they will not see him again.

“I think the sky is the limit for him. His future is obviously bright,” Durant said. “He makes everyone play better – even opponents. It’s all about the level at which you approach this game.

Seth Curry, who sustained a sprained left ankle on Monday after playing three games last week with an injury to the same ankle, is doubtful for the game.

Goran Dragic has doubts about pain in his left knee. The point guard banged his knee in Friday’s win against the Trail Blazers.

LaMarcus Aldridge, who has not played since March 6, will miss his eighth straight game with an impact to the right hip. Nash said the big man would be out for at least a week on Sunday.

Blake Griffin tries to play the ball.
Getty Images

As of Monday, Blake Griffin had played a total of 12 minutes and 1 second in the Nets’ last eight games. The reserve big man has been attached to the bench since they traded to Andre Drummond and Nic Claxton emerged as the best mobile big man option.

But without Drummond, who was out with a non-COVID illness, Griffin was superb defensively for 20 minutes against Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside while adding nine points on 3-of-4 shots.

When asked if staying ready was a challenge, Griffin said, “I don’t know if it’s a ‘challenge’ to describe it. I mean we get paid for it. It’s like summer, I train, I get injections. Conditioning, trying to stay in shape as much as possible, being ready when my number calls.”

Drummond, meanwhile, was not on the injury report. Nets don’t have to face injured Ja Morant vs. Grizzlies


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