MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ja Morant threw down a massive dunk over 7-footer Jakob Poeltl and scored a career-high 52 points, lifting the Memphis Grizzlies over the San Antonio Spurs 118-105 Monday night.
The arena was still buzzing from Morant’s fast-break slam late in the second quarter when Steven Adams delivered a length-of-the-court pass to Morant, who caught it mid-air and flipped in a buzzer-beater from the left baseline for a 68-58 halftime lead.
Morant also hit a 3-pointer from near the logo with the shot clock running down, creating a load of highlights from a memorable night.
“It’s got to be the 50 (points),” Morant said when asked what was most memorable, adding: “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.”
Morant added 13 consecutive points during the fourth quarter to break the game open, following up a career-best 46 points in a win Saturday at Chicago by connecting on 22 of 30 from the field. He hit all four 3-point tries as Memphis won its second straight.
De’Anthony Melton added 15 points for Memphis, while Tyus Jones scored 13.
Morant’s performance was the first 50-point game in Grizzlies franchise history. He said teammates began feeding him the ball in the fourth quarter when the 50-point target was in sight.
“He’s at the rim every night, but the way he put it together tonight, he was just in attack mode from the jump,” Melton said. “He got whatever he wanted, and it looked easy out there. It was just special to be out there and watch that.”
Lonnie Walker IV led the Spurs with 22 points, and Dejounte Murray added 21 points and eight assists before being ejected late in the fourth quarter. Poeltl finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Spurs loss left coach Gregg Popovich one game short of tying Don Nelson for the most regular-season wins by an NBA coach.
“He’s a beautiful player,” Popovich said of Morant. “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.”
The Grizzlies built the lead to 13 early in the fourth, their largest of the game at that point, but the Spurs were within 104-99 near the midway point of the fourth. That’s when Morant scored 13 straight.