The high-flying antics of Ja Morant that were a hallmark of the ex-Murray State guard’s rookie season with the Memphis Grizzlies have followed him into his sophomore year in the NBA. Late in the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs, the reigning Rookie of the Year took a moment to remind everyone of just how good of a passer and dunker he is with an alley-oop to himself.
Morant was driving down the lane when, anticipating a lob to a teammate, Spurs guard DeMar Derozan decided to back off of Morant and cover a teammate cutting down the baseline. In doing so, Derozan forced the second-year player to make a split second decision that he was more than prepared to deal with. Morant threw the ball off the glass, grabbed it in the air with both hands and then slammed it home.
It was a memorable moment in a game that would certainly have been more impressive had the Grizzlies been able to escape Wednesday’s game with a win. Going back to his days at Murray State, Morant has always been open about his desire to get his teammates, and thereby team, going even if it means sacrificing shots. That he scored 44 points, the second-most on an opening night by a second year player in NBA history, will be a factoid relegated to the back burner as he gathers himself for the next game in search of the season’s first win.
This wasn’t the only act of amazing athleticism on the night, and what’s even better is that the other one came from a player on the winning team. Lonnie Walker IV, the Spurs’ first round pick in 2018, showed off his hops on a breakaway dunk that made him look like he launched himself from a trampoline.
Not a bad matchup for fans wanting gravity-defying finishes.