Sunday night at FedEx Forum, it was 24 points on 9-for-16 shooting and two 3-pointers, seven assists, three rebounds, one steal and four turnovers for Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant.
But Memphis would endure another tough stretch in the third quarter, and the Phoenix Suns would hold on and pull away for a 114-105 win – moving to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 on the road.
Morant would lead all scorers in 29 minutes of action, banking 20 points in the second half and 11 in the fourth quarter. He added a highlight two-handed dunk in the stretch, taking a pass from Jae Crowder before swimming down the lane around Aron Baynes and over Ricky Rubio for a slam that cut it to 93-83 with 8:00 left in regulation.
“It's not on my mind to try and be the leading scorer,” Morant said. “I just take what the defense is giving me. Sometimes they'll stay home to the shooter, and it just opens up a shot for me. Then sometimes they'll collapse and I just make the play. So, it's just me making the reads.”
Through his first five games, he's playing 28.0 mpg, and on Sunday he responded to questions about whether he needed more minutes.
“I'm fine,” he said. “It's the coach's (Taylor Jenkins) decision. I feel like we have enough guys to give everyone a break. I feel like we're talented in all spots, and we'll be fine.”
It's a small sample size, just five games, but the former Racer is now averaging 18.8 ppg (37th), 5.4 apg (25th) and an 18.74 player efficiency rating (70th).
Next up for Morant and Memphis? A home date against the Houston Rockets on Monday, which keeps one of the strongest backcourts in the league with James Harden and Morant's favorite player: the newly acquired former Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook.