Donovan Mitchell Calls Ja Morant 'A Hell of a Player' After Grizzlies Star Drops 47

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 27, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MAY 26: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives around Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz in Game Two of the Western Conference first-round playoff series at Vivint Smart Home Arena on May 26, 2021 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. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was impressed with Memphis Grizzlies counterpart Ja Morant after Game 2 of the teams' first-round playoff series Wednesday night, calling him "a hell of a player" and saying he respects "the hell out of his game."

Morant scored 47 points, but it wasn't quite enough as the Jazz earned a 141-129 win to level the series at one game apiece:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

“Give credit to Ja, he had 50 damn near.”<br><br>Spida gives Ja Morant his flowers after dropping 47 🤝<br><br>(via @NBAonTNT)pic.twitter.com/EdX9OF06c4

Mitchell, who returned from a five-week absence caused by an ankle sprain, scored 25 points to pace the Jazz, who shot 54.4 percent from the field and knocked down 19 threes in the high-scoring victory.

Morant added seven assists and four rebounds on top of his 47-point effort, but he wasn't in a celebratory mood despite the standout performance.

"We lost," he told reporters. "Obviously it wasn't enough."

Perhaps most impressive was the fact most of his points came while attacking the paint, which is being protected in this series by Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the likely NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

"I'm not afraid," Morant said. "I mean, that's his job: to protect the rim. My job when I'm attacking the rim is to go finish. Obviously, he got a good block, but as you seen, I was right back inside the paint."

Gobert, who's 7'1'', held a similar view about his frequent showdowns with the 6'3'' Morant.

"It's what it's about," he said. "Sometimes I'm going to get dunked on and sometimes I'm going to get the block. I'm not going to stop coming and doing what I do. It's the same for him. Hopefully, he doesn't stop coming. I'm still going to be there every time. That's just the competitive spirit. I know Ja has that, but I have that, too."

It will be a fascinating matchup throughout the series, and one of the biggest challenges for the Jazz as a whole will be trying to defend the 2020 Rookie of the Year without fouling. He went to the free-throw line 20 times in Game 2.

The series now shifts to the FedEx Forum in Memphis for the next two contests. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.