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NBA

Grizzlies’ Ja Morant takes blame for late miss in Warriors defeat

Morant missed a potentially game-winning layup as the Memphis Grizzlies lost to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoff Semi-Finals.

Update:
Morant missed a potentially game-winning layup as the Memphis Grizzlies lost to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoff Semi-Finals.
Noah GrahamGetty

Ja Morant said his crucial late miss was down to him, rather than the Golden State Warriors’ defending, after the Memphis Grizzlies were beaten 117-116 in Game 1 of the teams’ NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semi-Finals series.

Morant finished with 34 points on 14-of-31 shooting, while also adding nine rebounds and 10 assists, but clanked a potentially game-winning layup hard off the backboard as time expired under a good contest from Klay Thompson.

Jordan Poole was the star of the show for the Warriors, coming off the bench to score 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting with eight rebounds and nine assists, stepping up to make up for Thompson’s six-of-19 performance from the field.

“I just missed a layup” - Morant

Speaking with post-game media, Morant opted to not give any credit to Thompson’s defense when prompted multiple times.

“It was the same message as every time we’re in the situation – I just missed a layup,” the All-Star said.

When pressed on if Thompson’s defense had any impact, Morant repeated his statement: “Nah, I just missed a layup.”

Instead, Morant said where his side lost the contest was in the hustle categories that the Grizzlies usually excel in.

“We gave up too many second-chance points, we gave up [too many] fast-break points,” he said. “That’s definitely not what we want to be giving up, and it played a factor in this game.

“I feel like that’s kind of where we messed up. We were running to the rim on their shots, and there were some long rebounds, 50-50 balls, you know we’ve got to come up with those against this team. We can’t allow them second chances, or open looks, and they made us pay for it.

“We came out and fought – we had a lead, then went down, then got the lead back. Klay hit a big-time three, and I missed a layup.

“Despite all that, we gave up 26 second-chance points and 18 fast-break points, and we lost by one.

It’s nothing to hang our heads about – but obviously we’ve got to correct those things.”

Memphis coach Jenkins praises Morant, Jackson

Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins did not want to let Jaren Jackson Jr’s night go unnoticed either, as he posted a playoff career-high 33 points as the Defensive Player of the Year candidate sank six-of-nine three-pointers.

[Morant and Jackson] were big for us tonight,” Taylor said. “I thought as [the Warriors] changed their line-ups, we started utilising ‘JJ’ more in ball-screens – Ja was doing a great job finding him, and JJ capitalised.

“It’s going to be a great film to go back and watch to see where we were successful, and see where we weren’t. But those two guys were bright spots for sure.”

When asked about the plan on the last possession, Jenkins was adamant that he trusts his best player to decide the game.

“[We were looking for] Ja to go make a play,” he said. “He had a great look, it just didn’t happen to go in.”

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