Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant powered his team to a 132-121 season-opening victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
During his 37-point performance, the home crowd chanted "MVP!" and he said afterward he was "almost shook" and that "they almost made me miss my free throws."
Morant scored 20 of his 37 points in the first half. He shot 17-of-29 from the field and added six rebounds, six assists and two blocks in the victory. He also managed to shake off his excitement over the MVP chants to make both of his free throws with 37.3 left in the fourth quarter to put Memphis up 130-118.
Morant was active on the defensive end and made highlights on the fast break:
Desmond Bane added 22 points, and De'Anthony Melton scored 20.
The Grizzlies led by as many as 16 in the first half, but the Cavaliers wouldn't go down easily. Morant and Melton were clutch down the stretch, combining for 14 points late as the Cavaliers got the lead down to one point on a couple of occasions.
Last season, Morant led the Grizzlies to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Memphis fell to the Utah Jazz in five games, but with Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams, Dillon Brooks (once he's back from a left hand fracture), Bane and Melton, the Grizzlies have a young core in place to make another run to the playoffs.
If you're wondering what Morant's MVP odds are, he opened the season on DraftKings at +4500.
Memphis will have a couple of days of rest before its second game of the season Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers.