MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — It may be a cliche, but Ja Morant put the Grizzlies on his back in Game 2 against the Golden State Warriors Tuesday.
The NBA’s Most Improved Player scored the last 15 points for the Grizzlies to take down the Warriors 106-101 to even the series.
“We just wanted it more than them at the end of the day I feel like,” forward Ziaire Williams said.
The win was hard fought. Everything that could go wrong, did.
After a strong first quarter Jaren Jackson Jr. would foul out in the 4th. Desmond Bane, who’s battling some tightness in his back, finished with just 5 points.
But the biggest blow was Dillon Brooks getting ejected after a flagrant 2 foul on Gary Payton II just three minutes into the game.
“There’s no room for guys getting hurt off of flagrant fouls,” said Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke. “Hopefully he can learn from that and we can have him on the floor for the whole game for the rest of series.”
Despite all of that, the Grizzlies pulled out the win after a huge 47-point night from Ja Morant.
The Grizzlies star guard said he was punched in the face and lost vision in his eye late in the game but would go on to knock down the Grizzlies’ last 15 points.
“He just has grit to somehow find a way even if his eyes hurt, even if his legs hurt, even if his back is sore,” Clarke said.
“I thought he was actually significantly better at the end in execution,” said Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins. “You know, defensive effort was unbelievable. He set the tone for us in the fourth quarter.”
After the game, center Xavier Tillman said, “I feel like I’ve just watched him transform into a true closer.”
Morant finished with 47 points, becoming just the 3rd player in NBA history to have multiple 45-plus point postseason games before turning 23 years old.
The other two being Kobe Bryant and Lebron James.
“Felt like this was kind of a must win game for us,” said Morant. “I was frustrated with myself with missing that layup in Game 1. [We] had some friendly words with Steph after Game 1. He came up to me and Jaren and said ‘this is gonna be a battle. We’re gonna have some fun.’ I was able to return that message tonight, saying the same thing.”
Game 3 is Saturday night at the Chase Center. Tip off is set for 7:30 CST.
The Grizzlies now wait to see what punishment the league hands down on Dillon Brooks for the flagrant 2 foul. A play Warriors coach Steve Kerr called dirty and left Gary Payton II with a fractured elbow.