Ja Morant's Dominance Powers Grizzlies Past James Harden, Rockets

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2020

MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 14: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball against the Houston Rockets on January 14, 2020 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 2020 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies remain one of the hottest teams in the NBA after a 121-110 win over the Houston Rockets.

Ja Morant lifted the Grizzlies (19-22) to their sixth win in a row behind 11 fourth-quarter points, including some daggers late.

The rookie finished with 26 points on 10-of-11 from the field Tuesday at the FedEx Forum, helping give the squad its longest win streak since December 2016.

Houston (26-13) couldn't overcome the absence of Russell Westbrook, even with James Harden coming through with 41 points in the loss.

       

Notable Performances

  • Ja Morant, G, MEM: 26 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds
  • Jaren Jackson Jr., F, MEM: 15 points, 3 steals, 2 blocks
  • Dillon Brooks, G, MEM: 24 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • James Harden, G, HOU: 41 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists
  • Clint Capela, C, HOU: 16 points, 16 rebounds
  • Eric Gordon, G, HOU: 23 points, 4 rebounds

        

Ja Morant Dazzles in the Spotlight

The rookie season has been exactly what the Grizzlies could have hoped from their No. 2 overall pick, but Morant truly turned heads in his battle with Harden.

The point guard showcased his handle and passing ability with some plays that you will see quite a bit on highlight reels going forward.

He also showed off his fearlessness with his tough baskets regardless of who was up against him.

It was certainly enough to get a buzz going with the game on a national broadcast.

Perhaps most impressively from the young player, Morant stayed within himself and didn't try to go shot-for-shot with Harden.

He finished an efficient 10-of-11 from the field, making all three free-throw attempts, and he had eight assists with only two turnovers. It helped him end the game plus-16 when he was on the court.

There were six players in double figures for Memphis, but Morant was the most impressive player on the floor for the home team and showed why he could have a very promising career in the future.

      

James Harden Left to Do It All Offensively

It wasn't surprising considering he entered the day averaging 37.7 points per game, but Harden was able to fill up the stat sheet again Tuesday.

The guard battled Morant on the stat sheet early and then pulled away on an individual level in the second half.

Harden scored 26 in the first half, added 12 more in the second and continued to pile on before ending with 41 points.

When he was making his shots, it looked like no one could stop him.

However, Westbrook's absence was felt as few others on the floor provided any help offensively. Eric Gordon remains a go-to option on the perimeter as he totaled 23 points, but the rest of the team mostly stood and watched.

Harden then began to force shots, leading to his 13-of-37 shooting from the field, including 5-of-19 from three-point range.

Without more players stepping up, this type of performance will not lead to wins against quality opponents. 

       

What's Next?

The Rockets have a quick turnaround before taking on the Portland Trail Blazers at home Wednesday. The Grizzlies will continue their six-game home stand with a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

Related

    Re-Grading 10 NBA Blockbusters ✍️

    Melo to the Knicks. Harden to the Rockets. Our writer grades some of the biggest trades since 2010 ⬇️

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Re-Grading 10 NBA Blockbusters ✍️

    Greg Swartz
    via Bleacher Report

    Shaq Explains 'Tiger King' Cameo

    Lakers legend says he's not friends with Joe Exotic after appearing in the Netflix documentary

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Shaq Explains 'Tiger King' Cameo

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    NBA Stars Sorted in Hogwarts Houses 🧙‍♂️

    Open to see where all your players get sorted in peak NBA Reddit content

    NBA logo
    NBA

    NBA Stars Sorted in Hogwarts Houses 🧙‍♂️

    DonyeWest
    via reddit

    Marcus Smart Cleared of COVID-19

    Celtics star tweets he’s been cleared of the coronavirus as of Friday

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Marcus Smart Cleared of COVID-19

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report