On the next stoppage of play, Morant informed Gobert that he intended to continue attacking. He backed up his speech, scoring 47 points, a franchise record for the playoffs, in the Grizzlies’ 141-129 loss on Wednesday night.
“We lost,” Morant said after the seeded Jazz tied the Western Conference first-round series. “Obviously, it was not enough. “
It was, however, a historically spectacular individual effort.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Morant’s 47 points were the most important in NBA playoff history by a player aged 21 or under. The previous high was 45 by LeBron James. The only other players this young to reach the 40-point milestone in a playoff performance are Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Tracy McGrady and Dallas Mavericks prodigy Luka Doncic.
“Honestly, it’s not that surprising,” said Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell, who scored his own playoff accomplishments during his young career. “He’s a player. He goes there and competes. … Tonight, he was aggressive from the jump. At a young age, for him to be able to have this is really special. It’s something I respect about him and about his game. He doesn’t stop. “
Morant had double-digit points in every quarter of Game 2, which saw the Grizzlies go from a 20-point deficit at the start of the third quarter to two points. He finished 15 of 26 from the floor and 15 of 20 from the free throw line, relentlessly attacking the paint throughout the night, regardless of Gobert’s spectacular rejection.
“I’m not afraid,” said Morant, whose 73 points so far in this series are just two points behind Hall of Fame center George Mikan’s record for most ever. in a player’s first two playoff games, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research. “I mean, that’s his job: to protect the rim. My job when I attack the rim is to go finish. Obviously he got a good block, but as you saw I was back in painting. “
The 6-foot-3 Morant, who had seven assists in the loss, earned the respect of the 7-foot-1 Gobert with his physical abilities and competitive fire.
“That’s what it is about,” said Gobert, who tallied 21 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks in the Jazz victory. “Sometimes I’ll get soaked and sometimes I’ll get the hang of it. I’m not going to stop coming and doing what I’m doing. It’s the same for him. Hope he doesn’t stop coming. I will always be there every time. It’s just the competitive spirit. I know Ja has it, but I have it too. ”