NBA

'I'm disrespectful just like they are' - Ja Morant after sending Timberwolves fans home 'mad'

By Sports Desk April 22, 2022

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant took joy in inflicting pain on the Minnesota Timberwolves fans in attendance of their 104-95 win.

Memphis' win, to go up 2-1 in the seven-game series, came after not taking their first lead until 7:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Grizzlies fell down by 26 points in the second quarter, and were able to pull the margin back to seven points at half-time, before the Timberwolves extended it back out to 25 points in the third term.

Trailing 83-62, the Grizzlies scored 21 consecutive points to tie things up, before pushing on and finishing the game on an eye-watering 50-13 run, including a 37-12 final quarter.

Ja Morant struggled to score as the Timberwolves backed off him and dared him to shoot long jump shots all night, finishing five-of-18 from the field, but he worked his way to a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks – the first playoff triple-double in Grizzlies history.

Before the game, Morant told reporters he wanted to send the Wolves fans home "mad", and he stood by his comments when chatting with post-game media.

"[Backing up my comments felt] good," he said. "I'm disrespectful just like [Timberwolves fans] are disrespectful.

"That's why you saw me throw the ball in the air [at the end] – I asked for the ball [for that specific purpose]. 

"I know what we're capable of, and like I said this morning, that was our goal, to come and win games on the road and have their fans go home mad. There will probably be a lot of people drinking tonight [in Minnesota], with that 'L'."

Morant spoke about his team's never-say-die attitude, and gave a shout-out to the role players who he says "won this game for us".

"The message was just to continue to fight – go out and battle – because we all know the game is never over until there's zeroes on the clock at the end," he said.

"It's the same thing I've been saying all season about my teammates – they deserve a lot more respect and recognition for what they do for us on the floor. 

"Us three [Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr and Dillon Brooks] struggled, but that's why we've got [Tyus Jones] and the rest of our teammates to pick us up. We're really the deepest team in the league, and we're so good.

"Those three guys [Jones, Brandon Clarke and Desmond Bane] were very big-time for us. Tyus coming in and being the floor general, controlling the pace and knocking down some big-time shots for us during that stretch where 'Des' and 'BC' were alongside of him. 

"That picked us up – a lot of credit goes to those guys – I feel like they pretty much won this game for us."

Related items

  • LeBron James' record points chase 'pretty cool' to watch, says Durant LeBron James' record points chase 'pretty cool' to watch, says Durant

    Kevin Durant feels privileged to see LeBron James' exploits up close as the four-time NBA champion chases Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time points record.

    James finished with 21 points on his return from an adductor injury in the Los Angeles Lakers' win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, as he inches closer to Abdul-Jabbar's NBA record of 38,387 points.

    The 18-time All-Star is the NBA's second-highest scorer with 37,332 points to his name, and Durant is excited by the prospect of seeing the 37-year-old make history.

    "To be the number one in anything, there's eight billion people in the world, we just figured that out last week, so to be the number one of all time at scoring the basketball, I'm sure it's going to be a range of emotions for him," Durant said on Friday.

    "But to be in an era where we see this live is pretty cool as well. You probably can't even describe the emotions and feelings him and his family and his friends are going to go through, but it's cool to see it up close."

    Durant sits 18th on the list with 26,110 points, putting him within 1,000 of six other players, but the 34-year-old is not thinking about his standing among the greatest to play the game.

    "I never really thought of it," he said. "I heard the talks, especially early on in my career when I was doing stuff the LeBrons, the Michael Jordans have done in the league, as far as scoring.

    "I know how tough it is to consistently do this year in and year out, day in and day out. A lot of stuff is out of your control. 

    "But I just try to come in and be the best version of myself I can be, and whatever happens, happens."

    Asked whether there was any particular player on the list he was aiming to beat, Durant added: "I never thought of it that way. 

    "It's always about just keep adding, keep building up good days every day. Being consistent in who I am as a player, and seeing what happens at the end of the road. 

    "I'm just grateful to get up and do something like this every day. Just keep adding to my skill and keep building my database for the game, I guess.

    "That's what I look forward to every day. Whoever I pass and whatever records I break for myself, it is what it is. But I'm just trying to get up and be available, be the best I can every day."

    Durant had a game-high 36 points as the Brooklyn Nets went down to a 128-117 loss against the Indiana Pacers.

  • Clippers franchise duo Leonard and George both ruled out Sunday against the Pacers Clippers franchise duo Leonard and George both ruled out Sunday against the Pacers

    The Los Angeles Clippers will be without franchise centerpieces Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for at least one more game after the duo were ruled out of Sunday's home fixture against the Indiana Pacers.

    Leonard initially returned in October for his first action since tearing his ACL in the 2021 playoffs. It was short-lived, with his knee swelling up after two games, forcing him to miss another three weeks.

    His latest stint saw him start three consecutive wins over the space of five days, but late in the fourth quarter of the third, against the Utah Jazz on Monday, he landed on an opponent's foot and rolled his ankle.

    Meanwhile, George has missed three games since straining his hamstring against the San Antonio Spurs last Saturday – a game where he had 21 points in the first half before suffering the injury.

    Making $42million each this season, the duo are the only players on the Clippers' roster making over $17m, and are relied on to lead their team on both ends of the floor.

    Los Angeles have lost both of their past two games by double-digits, and will get no reprieve when the Pacers come to town. The visitors boast the fourth-best record (11-7) in the Eastern Conference after a surprising start to what was meant to be a rebuilding season, led by the league-leader in assists, Tyrese Haliburton.

  • Rusty LeBron James shakes off nine turnovers, delivers in 'winning time' for the Lakers Rusty LeBron James shakes off nine turnovers, delivers in 'winning time' for the Lakers

    It was only the ninth time in LeBron James' illustrious 1377-game career that he has committed nine turnovers in a game, but he was able to figure it out in "winning time" to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 105-94 on Friday.

    James had missed the previous five games with an adductor injury, but returned to the line-up to help the Lakers collect their fourth win from their past five games.

    He had six of his nine turnovers in the first half, and had only 13 points through three quarters, but he turned it on down the stretch to finish with 21 points (eight-of-17), eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block.

    Speaking to the media after the win, James said he felt rusty in the early stages, but was pleased to deliver in his "favourite quarter".

    "My rhythm, my timing was a little off on a few of my passes," he said.

    "I had six [turnovers] in the first half, and cut it in half in the second half. I'll be a lot better, obviously, as the games go on I'll get my rhythm back.

    "[But] the fourth quarter has always been my favourite quarter. That's winning time, that's closing time and to be out there and being able to execute and make plays in the fourth quarter, it's always a treat for me."

    James was supported in style by Anthony Davis, who continued his red-hot form with another 25 points (10-of-13 shooting), 15 rebounds and three blocks.

    It continues Davis' best statistical start to a season since arriving with the Lakers ahead of the 2019-20 season, averaging 27.7 points per game in November and a career-high 12.6 rebounds for the season.

    "AD was the best player in the league over the last 4-5 games," James said. "Just his numbers and productivity on both sides of the floor. 

    "It's not just offensively, but defensively he's been super engaged, and tonight once again he was amazing."

    Davis is the anchor of the Lakers' defense, which was their calling card during their run to the 2020 championship.

    They were the third-ranked defense in the league that year, and the number one defense in the 2020-21 season, before plummeting to 21st this past campaign.

    With the additions of athletic defenders Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr, as well as Davis' return to form, the Lakers are back up to the sixth-best defense this season, and guard Dennis Schroder made it clear James is a big part of that.

    "Defensively, [James] was amazing," Schroder said. "Switching, holding off players and not letting them get to the rim.

    "If we got him and AD committing on the defensive end like that, then we're going to go a long way."

    Davis echoed that sentiment that James' performance was a two-way clinic.

    "His voice, leadership, his playmaking, scoring ability – I think it all came into effect tonight," he said. 

    "Especially down the stretch, pick-and-roll and calling plays and stuff. I think it was really good for us."

    James and Davis being back in the line-up together should see the Lakers begin to work out their offense, which has been weighing the team down early and is the big reason they are 6-11.

    Their offensive rating of 106.3 is the second-worst in the league, but if they can get that end of the floor to even league average, their defense has the potential to lead the Lakers to the playoffs.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.