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Ja Morant, Grizzlies Rediscover Swagger with Dominant Game 2 Win vs. Timberwolves

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 20, 2022

MEMPHIS, TN - APRIL 19: Xavier Tillman Sr. #2, Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 and Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies celebrate during Round 1 Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2022 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. 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 2022 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

These are the Memphis Grizzlies we were promised entering the 2022 NBA playoffs.

Memphis responded from its Game 1 loss with an electric 124-96 victory Tuesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 2.

The home team had FedExForum rocking, particularly in the third quarter when things got out of hand.

NBA TV @NBATV

JJJ WITH A HUGE PUTBACK 👀 <a href="https://t.co/QWpUvK072b">pic.twitter.com/QWpUvK072b</a>

NBA @NBA

Ja spin.<br>JJJ block.<br>JJJ three.<br>Ja three.<br><br>What a <a href="https://twitter.com/memgrizz?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@memgrizz</a> run on NBA TV!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAPlayoffs</a> presented by Google Pixel <a href="https://t.co/L5fr72yYiK">pic.twitter.com/L5fr72yYiK</a>

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

mhm <a href="https://twitter.com/JaMorant?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JaMorant</a> 🥷 <a href="https://t.co/Wyd8WMyxPM">pic.twitter.com/Wyd8WMyxPM</a>

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

THIS IS MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES BASKETBALL. <a href="https://t.co/K114KqsU0y">pic.twitter.com/K114KqsU0y</a>

Ja Morant didn't match his 32-point output from the last contest but made a more positive all-around impact on the floor. The All-Star guard finished with 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

My expectations for Ja Morant are different than everyone else’s Expectation. The way he’s taking over this game tonight on both ends of the floor is way more valuable that the 32 points he had in Game 1! Carry on…

NBA on ESPN @ESPNNBA

Ja pumps up the Memphis crowd after this three by JJJ 😤 <a href="https://t.co/LmLOyKRiik">pic.twitter.com/LmLOyKRiik</a>

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

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Dane Moore @DaneMooreNBA

This game has a completely different rhythm than Game 1 did.<br><br>Memphis' offense was far less heliocentric with Ja, and they did it for profit. Also 9 offensive rebounds for Memphis (after 8 in all of Game 1).<br><br>Wolves still only down 11, with KAT in foul trouble and Ant rhythm-less

Throughout the regular season, the Grizzlies exuded a level of confidence belying the age of their key stars and their lack of postseason success together. Would they still have that same assurance in the playoff pressure cooker?

Game 1 was a concerning sign, but Game 2 saw a return of the swagger.

Skip Bayless @RealSkipBayless

Memphis has turned back into MEMPHIS and MINNESOTA into minnesota. Go, Ja, go.

Evan Barnes〽️ @evan_b

Tee and Kaari Morant were grooving. Ziaire Williams was grooving on the bench. FedExForum was rocking. <br><br>Whoop. That. Trick. Only in Memphis.

Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins may have stumbled upon a series-defining tactical pivot, too, thanks to Steven Adams' early foul trouble. Memphis was much better while the veteran center was seated on the bench.

Using Xavier Tillman more and playing Jaren Jackson Jr. at the 5 might be the path forward.

Bryan Toporek @btoporek

Steven Adams has been awesome for the Grizzlies this year, but him getting two early fouls in this game might have been a blessing in disguise for them.<br><br>It also might have swung the series.

John Hollinger @johnhollinger

It was a close race, but I think we have to rule Steven Adams over Jarred Vanderbilt by a nose for the "first big played out of the series" crown. Gotta wonder if either will start Game 3. Inconceivable that they'll finish it.

Yaya Dubin @JADubin5

Jaren at the 5 lineups used to be unworkable. His leap on defense this year changed that and now it might have swung this series.

The series shifts to Minneapolis for Game 3 on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET. If the Grizzlies can wrest home-court advantage back from the Timberwolves, Minnesota could be in serious trouble.