Ja Morant Says 'I’m Not Afraid of Nobody'; Also Calls Dillon Brooks an 'Assassin'

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 24, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 23: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies dribbles the ball during the game against the Utah Jazz during Round 1, Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 23, 2021 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Ja Morant led the Memphis Grizzlies to a 112-109 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of their first-round series Sunday, the team's third straight victory after two play-in nailbiters. 

As Morant faces a seemingly insurmountable hurdle of becoming the first No. 9-turned-No. 8 seed to win a first-round series, he's making it clear he's not afraid of the Jazz. 

"My message to myself is always, 'If you don't believe in yourself, who will?'" Morant told reporters. "I take that on the floor. I always take two quotes that I got tatted on me that my mom and dad always told me that I'm trained to go, meaning that I work for this moment and I'm prepared for it. [And] 'Beneath no one,' my mom always told me that. So as long as I'm going out there, I have all the confidence in myself. I'm not afraid of nobody. Anybody I play against tie their shoes the same way I do before the game. And I just go out there and play confident."

Morant had 26 points and four assists, scoring four of the Grizzlies' six points in the last two minutes as they held their lead against a surging Jazz team playing without Donovan Mitchell (ankle) and Rudy Gobert (foul out) down the stretch. Dillon Brooks capped off a 31-point effort with a layup with 4.3 seconds remaining.

Brooks previously scored 24 points in the Grizzlies' first play-in game against the San Antonio Spurs.

"An assassin, honestly," Morant said of Brooks. "He was locked in from the jump ... me as a point guard, it's keep feeding him the rock. Me and Coach got some playcalls for him to continue to keep scoring. He delivered."

Morant and coach Taylor Jenkins also credited Brooks' emotional leadership for helping guide Memphis, highlighting his energy and competitive spirit.