The Portland Trail Blazers won the game, but Ja Morant won the day as the Memphis Grizzlies fell 125-122 in an emotional roller coaster ending to the Grizzlies season. In a rookie season full of memorable performances, Ja Morant saved his absolute best for last, totaling 35 points on 13-28 shooting and 8 assists.
The first quarter belonged entirely to the Blazers and the referees, as they used a 14-2 free throw advantage behind several questionable foul calls in favor of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to jump out to a 31-19 lead. Lillard himself was not even doing the most damage, as the Blazers benefitted from a balanced attack while the Grizzlies appeared totally discombobulated.
However, the Grizzlies used the combination of *checks notes* Jonas Valanciunas (14 points in the quarter and Kyle Anderson (4 assists in the quarter) while Lillard was off the court to go on a 15-0 run to take a 36-33 lead early in the second quarter. But once Lillard returned, he made two pivotal threes to help the Blazers maintain pace as they entered halftime with a 58-52 lead. Jusuf Nurkic was especially dominant with 15 points and 17 rebounds.
The second half was when Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke, two rookies in the biggest game of their lives, took point for the Grizzlies. Clarke, who had never made more than two threes in a game, made four threes in the third quarter alone on his way to 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists for the game to help lead the Grizzlies to a 94-89 lead after three quarters. Morant would score 14 of his 35 points in the 4th quarter, but a combination of CJ McCollum, who scored 14 points of his own in the final frame, and questionable officiating (14-2 free throw disparity for the Blazers in the final frame) allowed the Blazers to eventually come out with the victory.
The Portland Trail Blazers won the game, but Ja Morant won the day. And the Memphis Grizzlies, warts and all, will be back.