Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant is expected to miss Game 4 of his team’s second-round series against the Golden State Warriors, coach Taylor Jenkins revealed Sunday. Morant injured his knee in the second half of Saturday’s Game 3 loss to the Warriors.
Jenkins confirmed that the injury occurred when Warriors guard Jordan Poole yanked on Morant’s knee when seemingly swiping for the ball. The moment came with 6:19 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Morant was removed from the game then.
Morant tweeted afterward that Poole “broke the code,” but quickly deleted that tweet. It was in reference to what Warriors coach Steve Kerr said about Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks, who was suspended for Game 3 after committing a flagrant foul against Warriors guard Gary Payton II in Game 2, who suffered a fractured elbow on the play. While Brooks was suspended a game for his part in Payton II’s injury, Poole will not face any punishment from the league for his actions.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson was not happy with Morant’s accusation. “Me, personally. I’ve been through a tough knee injury. And I don’t think there’s any malicious intent from Jordan,” Thompson said. “I don’t even think he’s strong enough to affect somebody’s knee but we’re not out there trying to hurt people or trying to club people in the back of the head on a fast break. We play the game the right way.”
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Morant has been excellent in this series, averaging 38.3 points, 8.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game, but the Grizzlies have managed to survive without Morant for most of the season. Memphis went 20-5 without Morant during the regular season, helping them earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference in the process. Things have been harder in this series, though. The Grizzlies have played 29 minutes without Morant against Golden State and have lost those minutes by 32 points. Tyus Jones will likely start in Morant’s place if he is indeed unable to play. Brooks should return to the starting lineup as well with his suspension served.
Golden State leads the series 2-1, and by winning Game 1 in Memphis, they stole home-court advantage from the Grizzlies. Memphis needed to win at least one of the last two games in San Francisco to win this series, and with Morant expected to miss Game 4, that’s going to become a whole lot harder.