Pistons get second chance to slow Grizzlies PG Ja Morant
The Detroit Pistons have the unfortunate task of trying to stop Ja Morant for the second time in less than a week when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
Morant led the Memphis Grizzlies to a 122-112 victory in Detroit on Sunday while piling up 33 points and 10 assists. He was even more dominant on Wednesday, notching a triple-double with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in just 30 minutes during a 123-102 romp past Oklahoma City.
“When he is just unlocking everything from a playmaking and scoring standpoint, he is pretty unguardable,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “That just only impacts our ability to be the best offense that we can be.”
Morant now has six career triple-doubles, a franchise record.
“It’s an honor, big time,” Morant said. “There’s a lot of great players (who have) been in this organization. … It’s crazy. It’s something you’ve got to earn, but I feel like my teammates are right up there with me.”
The Grizzlies carry a four-game winning streak into Friday’s home game. Morant is averaging a career-high 28.3 points, 7.6 assists and 6.6 rebounds. He ranks among the top 10 in the league in the first two categories.
“I felt like I’ve been saying it since coming out of the draft, I love to pass the ball,” Morant said. “When you are passing the ball, everybody’s happy, everybody’s out there playing with confidence. You just see a team out there playing with such a joy, and you see how contagious it is when the ball moves around the court, and the open looks we get.”
Morant won’t have backcourt partner Desmond Bane to help him out for another 3-4 weeks. Bane is recovering from a right big toe sprain.
John Konchar has taken Bane’s place in the starting lineup, but wing Dillon Brooks has shouldered more of the scoring load. He’s averaging 20 points during the winning streak.
The Pistons are wrapping up a three-game road trip. They defeated the Miami Heat 116-96 on Tuesday, then gave the New Orleans Pelicans a rugged battle before succumbing 104-98 on Wednesday.
It would have helped if Bojan Bogdanovic had remained on the court. Bogdanovic scored 28 of his 31 points against the Heat in the second half. He wasn’t around most of the second half in New Orleans after being assessed two technicals for complaining to the officials.
“That hurt us down the stretch, that’s our go-to guy,” Detroit head coach Dwane Casey said. “I just told him that we had to have him in there at the end of the game. He can’t get ejected, or whatever frustration you have with the officials … you’re a veteran. He knows that and he felt bad about it. But we have to have him down the stretch because he is our go-to guy. That’s those six points, easy.”
The Pistons were outscored 29-15 in the second quarter and never caught up, though they were down just four points in the closing minutes.
“We got stagnant,” Casey said. “We have some things that we want to do and have to do in those situations, but we just didn’t execute.”
Saddiq Bey led Detroit with 25 points. He also had a team-high 24 points in the first game against the Grizzlies.
–Field Level Media