Grizzlies’ Ja Morant drops career-high 17 assists in win over Raptors
Ja Morant put on a passing clinic in the Memphis Grizzlies‘ 119-106 win over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night. In 36 minutes of action, Morant dropped a career-high 17 assists to go along with 19 points and four rebounds. Morant’s previous career high in assists was 14.
The electric Grizzlies guard picked apart Toronto’s defense all night and set the tone for his team with his playmaking. He tallied three assists in the first quarter, five in the second, seven in the third, and two more in the final frame. Morant picked up all of these assists while turning the ball over a total of just three times, which makes the performance additionally impressive.
Check out the highlights from Morant’s career passing performance below:
Developing as a playmaker is part of the evolution of Morant’s game. He’s already established himself as an elite scorer, and he’s consistently learning how to leverage that ability in order to generate opportunities for others. He’s averaging a career high in assists per game on the season, and his improvement in that area was on full display on Thursday night.
“It’s super impressive,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said about Morant’s passing performance after the game. “Tons of credit to Ja. It just sets a tone for us. His unselfishness, we talk about that all the time.”
In order for Morant to pile up the assists, he needed his teammates to finish plays off of his passes, and they did just that. All five of Memphis’ starters finished in double-figures, led by Dillon Brooks, who had 25 points while shooting seven of 14 from the floor. Pascal Siakam led the way for Toronto with 25 points and 10 rebounds, but his production wasn’t enough to propel Toronto to a win.
The victory over the Raptors was much-needed for the Grizzlies, losers of four of their previous five games heading into Toronto, including a tough Christmas Day loss to the shorthanded Golden State Warriors. As a result of that brief skid, the Grizzlies dropped down to third in the Western Conference standings after previously occupying the top spot. They’re now just a single game behind the New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets for first in the West.
Morant’s career high in assists came just a night after Pelicans forward Zion Williamson dropped a career-high 43 points in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s safe to say that the top of the 2019 NBA Draft is living up to expectations.