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Ja Morant announces his presence in signature performance for Memphis Grizzlies

Vincent Frank

Down by four with under four minutes remaining, Ja Morant needed to step up big time for his Memphis Grizzlies if they were going to avoid losing two consecutive at home against the Golden State Warriors.

Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals Tuesday evening in Memphis represented a turning point for Morant and the Grizzlies against a battle-tested Warriors squad. A loss here, and Memphis would have found itelf behind the proverbial eight-ball heading into Game 3 in San Francisco.

What did the reigning NBA Most Improved Player do during that final four minutes? He put the Grizzlies on his back — scoring 13 consecutive points for Memphis in a virtuoso performance from the former No. 2 pick.

Whether it was a clutch three with the Grizzlies down by four or using his elite athleticism, Ja Morant was on a completely different level.

There’s a reason this 22-year-old star guard led his Grizzlies to the second-best regular-season record in the NBA at 56-26. His ability to control the flow of the game and hit clutch shot after clutch shot is second-to-none when it comes to youngsters in the NBA.

It also now has Memphis involved in an actual series against Golden State rather than falling into a 2-0 series hole.

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Ja Morant is just built for the big stage

memphis grizzlies ja morant
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

A game that saw Dillon Brooks ejected early in the first quarter also included Morant going full takeover more.

Morant scored or assisted on 23 of the Grizzlies 36 buckets. He hit on 12 of their 20 free throws and five of the team’s 14 three-pointers after hitting a mere four from distance in Memphis’ six-game Round 1 series win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Elevating your game when it counts the most. Showing the entire basketball world that no stage is too big for you. Morant did that and then some against a Warriors team with multiple three-time champions and looking like world beaters heading into Game 2. Those around the Association took note.

There’s very few nights of basketball like the one we saw Tuesday evening in Memphis. As Morant was doing his thing, Warriors star Stephen Curry was keeping his squad in the game.

The two exchanged body blow after body blow in the final few minutes of the game with Morant coming out on top. Adding to the drama of what has been a drama-filled and physical first two games of the series, Morant spouted off at Steph following the huge franchise-altering win.

“We gonna have some fun. We gonna have some fun.”

Ja Morant to Stephen Curry after Memphis Grizzlies’ Game 2 win

Not afraid to talk your talk after backing it up on the court. Going up against one of the best the game has to offer and potentially putting up bulletin board material heading back to Warriors ground for Game 3. That’s the confidence Morant has in himself. He’s not worried. He understands what’s facing him in Northern California.

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Ja Morant cements his legacy as Memphis Grizzlies legend

MVP chants could be heard throughout FedEx Forum Monday evening as Morant willed his Grizzlies to an absolutely monstrous win over a favored Warriors squad.

Every time Jordan Poole hit a big bucket or Stephen Curry did his thing, Morant responded. He did it effortlessly and without looking winded. He did it while the Grizzlies second-leading scorer, Jaren Jackson Jr., put up all of 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting before fouling out.

We have absolutely no idea whether Memphis will come out in this series. Golden State still boasts home-court advantage and has the next two games at home. The NBA could potentially opt to suspend Dillon Brooks after his hard foul on Gary Payton II resulted in the Warriors’ guard suffering a fractured left elbow.

It really doesn’t matter. Ja Morant has made a name for himself around the NBA world and is now an absolute legend in Memphis. As for the rest of the series, it’s going to be a blast starting with Game 3 Saturday night inside San Francisco’s Chase Center.

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