The Memphis Grizzlies have the distinction of being the only team to beat the Western Conference heavyweights in the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz this season.
Ja Morant was a big part of those wins, and he and the rest of the Grizzlies will have a shot at another top-tier squad on Monday night during a visit to the Brooklyn Nets.
Morant enters Monday’s game averaging 24.7 points per game this season and 26.5 points in six games since returning from a 12-game absence due to a sprained knee and health protocol and NBA security. The Grizzlies were 10-2 in his absence, and Morant is averaging 30.5 points during their four-game winning streak.
Morant scored at least 30 points in three straight games for the first time in his career. He started off by finishing a 33-point night with the game-winner in Phoenix on Dec. 27, scoring 41 two nights later in a five-point win over the Los Angeles Lakers, then finished with 30 in of Friday’s 118-105 victory. on the San Antonio Spurs.
âI just take what the defense gives me,â Morant said in his field interview with Bally’s Sports Southwest. âMy teammates always tell me to be aggressive. These last two games, I was very aggressive and I looked for my shot and I also made the right play. “
The Grizzlies are 14-4 in their last 18 games and managed a performance against Spurs in which they allowed 44 points in the second half, tied a season-high with 11 blocked shots and scored 72 points. in the painting.
The Nets have weakened against top opponents all season, with a combined 0-6 record against the Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Golden State and Phoenix.
Brooklyn is also looking to avoid three straight losses for the first time this season and a fourth straight loss at home following the fourth-quarter collapse to the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers. The Nets scored five points in the final 3.5 minutes on Thursday in a 110-102 loss to Philadelphia and were outscored 28-11 in the 5:57 final and lost a 13-point lead in the 120 loss. Saturday’s -116 against the Clippers. .
“I just think (giving up) 71 points in the second half is unacceptable,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. âWe never really had the care factor. “
The Nets are in their first losing streak of the season despite the return of stars Kevin Durant and James Harden from the NBA’s health and safety protocol and being almost at full power.
Harden has three of his seven triple doubles since his return on Dec. 25, and Durant has at least 30 points in five of his last six games.
On Saturday, Harden totaled 34 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds for his third 30-point triple-double since his return. Durant finished with 28 points, but the Nets gave up 40 points in the fourth quarter and missed 9 of 11 3-point tries in the last 12 minutes.
“We’re going to keep getting our asses kicked if we don’t approach the game properly,” Durant said. âIt’s about the group and everyone who comes here and does their best. Tonight was not one of those nights.
Memphis has won the last four meetings and five of the last six with the Nets, including three overtime wins in that span.
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