Ja Morant’s dunk in Indiana ‘easily’ the best of his in-career


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Ja Morant spent the first four seasons earning individual honors and turning the Memphis Grizzlies into one of the most entertaining shows in the NBA.

The domineering guard has won Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, All-Star and All-NBA honors, but his dunk attributes (rebound, hang time, fearlessness, spontaneity and ferocious finishing ability) A clean poster dunk that sums it all up just wasn’t possible. he. Morant’s best effort ahead of this weekend was Minnesota in his 2022 playoffs against the Timberwolves, with TNT commentator Ian Malik at the slam he was famously dubbed “Ja-Breaker” by the Eagles. He scaled Beasley It was when

Otherwise, many of Morant’s most adventurous attempts were close calls he failed to complete, like the near miss against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love in 2019. League fans of his passing have long laughed at Morant’s unparalleled ability to go viral on his social media.

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After years of irritating tremors, Morant erupted Saturday in a soaring, cocked-back poster dunk that he said was “easily” the best dunk of his career. It erupted. The 23-year-old star Kudos to the new Nike Signature sneaker for providing it. An extra boost he needed for a long time.

“It’s what everyone has been waiting for,” Morant said. “Finally done.”

It’s a dunk over the years, the perfect partner for Morant’s block on Avery Bradley last year, and the Los Angeles Lakers guard who evokes memories of Bill Russell, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. It was a two-handed chase down against

With just over four minutes left in the third quarter as the Grizzlies beat the Pacers 130-112, Morant set up a high pick-and-roll with forward Santi Aldama on the right side of the court. The Pacers switched screens, allowing Morant to size up O’Shea his brisset forward near his line for a three-pointer. Morant feinted right and slid Brissett towards the sideline. Morant took the opportunity with a defender out of position and used his dribbling quick right-to-left crossover and headed straight for the open his paint. Here, Morant blended Chris Paul’s ability to lace up defenders with young Derrick Rose’s lateral quickness and acceleration into open space.

“[The Pacers] Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “They were up. He was going downhill through little cracks and seams.”

As Morant entered the paint, he picked himself up with full momentum off both feet as Smith rotated from the weaker side. 2020 lottery pick Jalen Smith, 6.9, was averaging nearly a block per game since arriving in Indiana last season and was well positioned to counter Morant’s drive. Smith jumped on his feet from just inside the circle and held vertical with his arms. To get to the rim, Morant had to go over and through him.

Two fans wearing Morant’s number 12 jersey rose from their sideline seats in anticipation even before Morant took off. As the defender rises from the hardwood, Morant leans his body slightly to protect the defender, cuffs the ball with his right hand, extends his arm as far back as possible nearly parallel to the court, and points toward the hoop. flew away. Smith attempted a block with his right hand, but Morant carried him in front of the rim with leftward momentum and hovered past him. The ball was now right over his head.

“If you want to go viral, jump with me” Morant wrote on Twitter after the game..

After getting around Smith, Morant missed a Piledriver finish and sent the ball to the rim with a right hand, the recoil of which sent him staggering. Thankfully, Grizzlies center Stephen Adams was nearby to help Morant stabilize upon landing.

Morant then stared at the Memphis bench as teammates hugged and the crowd roared. Baseline One of his fans in his seat celebrated by patting himself on the head, a universal sign of posterization, even though he was wearing a Pacers jersey. Forward, Jalen his Jackson Jr. tap dancing was a joy.

Grizzlies guard Desmond Bain said, “It will probably be Dunk of the Year.

Morant and Smith’s 7-inch height difference, combined with Smith’s positioning and block attempts, are reminiscent of Baron Davis’ 2007 dunk to Andrei Kirilenko and Jordan’s 1991 finish to Patrick Ewing. When Morant dunked on top of him, the 6-foot-4-inch Beasley was tied to the ground and just tried to charge.

“The takeoff spot with the defenders right on the rim was really impressive,” said Jenkins. “It’s a difficult finish. Obviously, it was a stressed play for us. That’s his God-given ability, good execution, picking spots to be aggressive.” ”

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Memphis is on a nine-game winning streak and is the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference going into Monday’s game. And it dreams of reaching the Conference Finals for the second time in franchise history.Morant was a strong contender for his second All-Star selection and Cleveland his Cavaliers guard. Donovan Mitchell encouraged him to enter Showcase’s Slam Dunk Contest in Salt Lake City next month.

Morant has grown weary of the idea in the past, but his inclusion immediately adds a level of buzz not seen since Zach LaVine. Whether it’s in his improvisation and finishing with a dunk, layup or floater, much of his drive into the whoops relies on last-second adjustments to the flight path. Even with weeks of planning, choreography routines, and prop selection, you may not be able to top what you did to Smith on a random January night in the Midwest.

“Looking back at some of Ja’s in-game dunk highlights, I’m sure there are some of the best to date.” Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett said.

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