CHICAGO – Was this the first of several All-Star Weekend appearances for Ja Morant?

The former Murray State Racer and rookie Memphis Grizzlies point guard – a starter for the popular “Rising Stars” showcase in the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend festivities – displayed an innate connection with his former AAU teammate and 2019 No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson, found a couple highlights of his own, and finished with 10 points, six assists and five rebounds in Team USA's 151-131 win over Team World.

While defense was clearly optional, Morant fired three particularly spectacular passes before halftime:

– A half-court bullet lob to Williamson for the slam, cutting it to a 19-18 deficit with 5:00 left in the first quarter.

– A high, right-handed scoop-pass in transition to Williamson high above the square, cutting it to 67-65 with 1:33 left in the second quarter.

– And a between-the-legs-and-toss to Williamson with 41 seconds left in the second quarter, which the former Duke star and New Orleans Pelicans forward finished emphatically to keep it at a one-score game, 72-69.

His second-half 360-degree dunk, on a full-court pass from Williamson, no less, had former Louisville Cardinals star and Utah Jazz dynamo Donovan Mitchell a little stunned.

“It's just too easy,” he said. “I wish I could jump like that.”

Speaking of jumps, Williamson's favorite moment of the night came on one of Morant's passes.

“I think you guys are going to like this one,” he told a scrum of reporters. “When Ja threw me the lob from halfcourt. That was reminiscent back to ninth grade. It was crazy, honestly. After I caught it, we got a timeout and we got subbed out, I was thinking about our Hornets days (the AAU team). And I keep thinking: 'Never in a million years did I think we would've been in this game, or been in this situation we're in.'

“It was that moment.”

Team USA pulled away in the second half mostly behind its 3-point shooting, as Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young (4-for-8), Cleveland Cavaliers star Collin Sexton (3-for-6), “Rising Stars” 2020 MVP and Charlotte Hornets star Miles Bridges (3-for-7), another Charlotte Hornets star in Devonte' Graham (3-for-7), Miami Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn (2-for-4), Golden State Warriors rookie Eric Paschall (1-for-1) and Memphis Grizzlies star Jaren Jackson Jr. (1-for-4) combined for 17 triples over the course of the game.

Team World was powered by 27 points from New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett, 22 points from Memphis Grizzlies rookie Brandon Clarke and 16 points each from Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. But they shot just 12-for-49 from behind the arc.

“It's a special moment for all three of us (himself, Clarke and Jackson), and also the Grizzlies,” Morant told the Commercial Appeal's Evan Barnes. “And we're looking to represent.”

Mission accomplished.

TEAM WORLD Min (FG)M-A (FT)M-A (REB)O-T A PF PTS

Barrett 23:45 11-17 5-6 0-6 5 1 27

Clarke 23:45 11-15 0-0 3-8 2 0 22

Hachimura 20:28 7-11 0-0 2-7 4 1 14

Doncic 23:45 6-11 0-0 0-2 5 0 16

Gilgeous-Alexander 23:45 7-15 1-2 2-3 3 3 16

Alexander-Walker 19:32 2-12 0-0 0-2 4 0 6

Melli 16:15 1-3 0-0 1-5 2 0 3

Mykhailiuk 16:15 2-11 0-0 1-4 2 0 6

Okogie 16:15 2-5 0-0 2-3 5 1 5

Wagner 16:15 6-9 3-4 3-4 0 2 16

Totals 200:00 55-109 9-12 14-44 32 8 131

Percentages: FG .505, FT .750.

3-Point Goals: 12-49, .245 (Doncic 4-9, Mykhailiuk 2-9, Alexander-Walker 2-10, Melli 1-2, Wagner 1-2, Okogie 1-4, Gilgeous-Alexander 1-7, Clarke 0-1, Hachimura 0-1, Barrett 0-4).

Team Rebounds: 2. Team Turnovers: None.

Blocked Shots: 3 (Alexander-Walker, Gilgeous-Alexander, Okogie).

Turnovers: 12 (Okogie 5, Alexander-Walker 2, Barrett, Doncic, Hachimura, Melli, Mykhailiuk).

Steals: 9 (Barrett 3, Wagner 2, Alexander-Walker, Clarke, Doncic, Hachimura).

Technical Fouls: None

TEAM USA Min (FG)M-A (FT)M-A (REB)O-T A PF PTS

Nunn 19:46 7-11 0-0 0-1 1 3 16

Williamson 19:46 7-11 0-0 1-2 1 1 14

Jackson Jr. 19:41 4-7 3-4 3-7 0 0 12

Morant 19:46 5-9 0-0 0-5 6 2 10

Young 19:46 7-13 0-0 1-4 7 2 18

Paschall 20:19 10-13 2-3 0-3 2 1 23

Bridges 20:14 8-12 1-2 1-5 5 0 20

Graham 20:14 3-7 0-0 0-6 5 0 9

Sexton 20:14 9-14 0-0 0-5 3 0 21

Washington 20:14 4-5 0-0 1-5 2 0 8

Totals 200:00 64-102 6-9 7-43 32 9 151

Percentages: FG .627, FT .667.

3-Point Goals: 17-39, .436 (Young 4-8, Sexton 3-6, Bridges 3-7, Graham 3-7, Nunn 2-4, Paschall 1-1, Jackson Jr. 1-4, Morant 0-1, Washington 0-1).

Team Rebounds: 9. Team Turnovers: None.

Blocked Shots: 0

Turnovers: 14 (Nunn 3, Williamson 3, Young 3, Sexton 2, Bridges, Morant, Paschall).

Steals: 9 (Bridges 3, Nunn 2, Paschall, Sexton, Washington, Young).

Technical Fouls: None

Team World 39 42 24 26 — 131

Team USA 30 41 44 36 — 151

T: 1:35.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for Reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.