Sport

Yes Morant Dunk, Summer-beater guides Grizzlies past Timberwolves

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — First, Ja Morant gave the Memphis Grizzlies and their fans a much-needed boost of energy by flying through the air for a big dunk late in the third quarter.

Then the All-Star Guard took over the last two minutes of the game.

Morant scored the final 11 points for Memphis, and his layup with a second lefty capped the Grizzlies’ big rally of 11 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-109 and forge a 3-2 lead on Tuesday night Western Conference Series First Round.

“Go and get a bucket. Yes,” Morant said of the game-winning game.

Morant, who was named the NBA’s Best Improved Player on Monday, struggled a lot during the game. But he turned it on in the fourth quarter and scored 18 points – including 9 of 10 at the free-throw line. His only 3 of the game came with 1:03 left, giving Memphis their first lead since the first quarter.

“Obviously he had a brilliant fourth quarter,” said Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins.

The Grizzlies’ point guard came off the low post as the Grizzlies boxed in with 3.7 seconds left, losing to Anthony Edwards at the top of the key. That left him an open lane in the paint he’s had so seldom this series, beating Jarred Vanderbilt with his left hand on a sneaky layup.

Edwards said he was trying to steal the ball.

“Stupid mistake,” Edwards said.

Morant finished with 30 and had 13 rebounds and nine assists. Desmond Bane added 25 points and Brandon Clarke had 21 off the bench for Memphis and Jaren Jackson Jr. added 12 before fouling.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 28 points and 12 rebounds. Anthony Edwards had 22 and D’Angelo Russell added 12 and Taurean Prince 10.

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant dunks the ball against the Timberwolves during Game 5 of the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2022 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn.
Grizzlies guard Ja Morant duns the ball against the Timberwolves.
NBAE via Getty Images

Game 6 is Friday night back in Minnesota, and the Wolves are now trying to force a seventh game Sunday in Memphis.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” Towns said. “You feel like you have it after all the mistakes and whatnot. We hit a big 3 to end the game in 4 seconds (left). you feel good You feel good when you go into overtime and have a chance to win the game. Just a learning experience.”

The Timberwolves led 99-88, 6:58 after three Towns free throws and Jackson fouled for a second straight game. The Grizzlies responded with a 10-0 run to set up an exciting final after an ugly game of poor shooting, and outplayed Minnesota 37-24 in the fourth.

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant drives to the basket to set the winning bucket against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Round 1, Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2022 at the FedExForum in Memphis.
Grizzlies guard Ja Morant drives to the basket for the game winner.
NBAE via Getty Images

Edwards tied it at 109 for Minnesota with a 3 by 3.7 seconds. This prepared Morant for the final drive to the basket for the game winner to begin the celebration.

Clarke said he told Morant during the hug he thanked God the Grizzlies have him on their team.

“Thank god you’re good as you are because we just fought so hard,” Clarke said. “And hit a really hard 3. And I just thought, well, it’s okay because we’ve got 12 and we’ve got a player who can make a really, really big finish. And I said, ‘Yeah, thank god we got you, man.'”

Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane is shot in the first half during Game 5 of a first round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, May 26.
Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane is fouled in a shot by Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley.
AP

Jenkins was fined $15,000 Monday for criticizing the office following Game 4, a 119-118 Minnesota win. On Tuesday, his Grizzlies hit the free throw line more times than Minnesota — they just didn’t shoot well there, making 26 of 39 compared to Minnesota’s 21 of 24.

The Grizzlies opened the game on a 13-2 run and looked like the team with the highest seeding in franchise history.

Then Jackson got his second foul on Patrick Beverley’s 3 and went on the bench. The Timberwolves, the NBA’s top 3-point shooting team in the regular season, started putting down shots, going outside the arc 7 of 11 and leading 31-28 by the end of the first quarter.

Minnesota was up 55-53 at halftime, beating Memphis 30-21 in the third. But Morant topped the quarter with a windmill dunk that helped give the Grizzlies some much-needed energy.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/26/ja-morant-dunk-buzzer-beater-lead-grizzlies-past-timberwolves/ Yes Morant Dunk, Summer-beater guides Grizzlies past Timberwolves

JOE HERNANDEZ

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