NBA

Grizzlies star Morant hailed as 'beautiful player' by legendary Spurs coach Popovich after 52-point showing

By Sports Desk March 01, 2022

Ja Morant chalked up a first ever career 50-point game for the Memphis Grizzlies and was labelled a "beautiful player" and "special kid" by San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

It was the first time in Grizzlies franchise history a player had achieved the target, and his overall haul of 52 helped Memphis – who sit third in the Western conference –  to a 118-105 triumph on Monday.

Morant's performance followed a previous career-best 46 against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, as he went 22-for-30 from the field and drained each of his four three-point attempts.

Popovich, at the age of 73, has seen plenty of the NBA's best during his illustrious coaching career and he waxed lyrical about Morant's talents.

"He's a beautiful player," Popovich said. 

"What else can you say about him? It's not just that he's athletic. Everybody says 'he’s athletic'. Somebody says 'he's a freak of nature' because he's so fast. But he makes decisions. He knows what is going on on the court.

"So, you combine that cerebral part of his game with his athleticism and you've got a special kid."

There was no shortage of highlights on the reel for Morant, including him dunking over the seven-footer Jakob Poeltl and landing a buzzer-beater for a 68-58 half-time lead after catching a huge launch forward from Steven Adams in mid-air.

He also executed a sensational three-pointer from near the logo, but for Morant it was clear what the highlight of the night was.

"It's got to be the 50 [points],"he said.

"I'm thankful for my teammates, my coaches. They believe in me and have all the confidence in the world that I’ll make the right plays."

De'Anthony Melton, who scored 15 points for the Grizzlies, said of Morant: "He's at the rim every night, but the way he put it together tonight, he was just in attack mode from the jump.

"He got whatever he wanted, and it looked easy out there. It was just special to be out there and watch that."

Of Morant's leap over Poeltl, Melton added: "That dunk was crazy. The way he rose, stared at him and dunked it."

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