Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Grizzlies vs. Timberwolves: Ja Morant’s buzzer-beating layup lifts Memphis to Game 5 victory vs. Minnesota

Ja Morant’s spectacular, buzzer-beating, left-handed layup lifted the Memphis Grizzlies to a 111-109 victory in Game 5 of their first-round series against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday. Memphis had only 3.7 seconds to make a play when Dillon Brooks found Morant with an inbounds pass, placing it just out of reach of Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards.

Morant, who finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and three steals, did the rest, taking one strong dribble and finishing around Minnesota’s Jarred Vanderbilt.

Watch: 

“It was the way we drew it up,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We were trying to just get Ja the ball at the top of the key with spacing, knowing that in three-point-whatever seconds, he was going to be able to make one, two dribbles and get to the rim. Obviously, Vanderbilt came over, did a heck of a job at the rim. Ja made a heck of a move to avoid [him] and the ball rattled in. A play we’ve worked on before. Great execution. Great find by DB with length on the passer. And then Ja made a heck of a move and a heck of a finish.”

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The game-winner capped Memphis’ furious, fourth-quarter comeback. The Grizzlies trailed by 11 points with about seven minutes left before going on a 19-7 run in less than six minutes, with a small lineup on the floor. Memphis outscored Minnesota in 37-24 in the fourth quarter, and Morant himself had 18 points in the final frame. 

Right before he lost Morant on the most important possession of the game, it looked like Edwards might have saved the day for the Wolves. Down by three points with 8.2 seconds left, Minnesota coach Chris Finch drew up a sideline out-of-bounds play that resulted in a corner 3 for Edwards:

This was a wild, back-and-forth game in which neither team was as sharp as it wanted it to be. The last two buckets reflected the teams’ contrasting shot profiles: Minnesota shot 14 for 33 from 3-point range, Memphis 7 for 28, and the Grizzlies had 62 points in the paint to the Timberwolves’ 38. 

Asked to walk reporters through the possession that gave Memphis a 3-2 lead in the series, Morant kept it simple. “Go get a bucket, Ja,” he said. 

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