Ja Morant scores career-high 44 points in opening night loss to the Spurs
Along with his 44 points, Morant also had two rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. He was 18-of-27 from the field, 1-of-2 from deep, and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.
First 40 burger of his career.
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) December 24, 2020
Morant also showcased his creativity and presence of mind in the play below. Initially, it seems that Morant wasn’t sure what to do with the ball. But out of the blue, he turned it into a self alley-oop slam.
Ja Morant off-the-backboard dunk to himself 🔥pic.twitter.com/8BOjXKSKS9
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 24, 2020
Morant is coming off his stellar first-year campaign where he was crowned Rookie of the Year. Though they missed the playoff proper, the Grizzlies finished ninth place which analysts saw as a good sign of things to come.
Morant effectively forged his name alongside some legendary names with his 44-point performance. Morant now holds the second-most points by a player in the first game of his sophomore season. Elgin Baylor holds the record when he dropped 52 points in 1959 against Detroit.
He’s also just the sixth player in NBA history to drop at least 40 points in the first game of his second season. He joins Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Walt Bellamy, Ricky Barry, and Shaquille O’Neal in the exclusive list.
Others: Elgin Baylor (52 in 1959), Wilt Chamberlain (42 in 1960), Walt Bellamy (43 in 1962), Rick Barry (41 in 1966) and @SHAQ (42 in 1993).@stathead: https://t.co/MInlLbtVlF pic.twitter.com/V2wRAOPoH3
— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) December 24, 2020
It’s just unfortunate that the Spurs spoiled Morant’s career night. They pummeled the Grizzlies, 131-119. But the Grizzlies have a chance to redeem themselves on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks. The Spurs, for their part, will play the Toronto Raptors.