Ja Morant dismisses Warriors' defense on Game 1 layup

Ja Morant dismisses Warriors’ defense on Game 1 layup

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson was the hero of Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals in Memphis on Sunday. Not only did he hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to put the Dubs up by the final margin, 117-116, but he also switched onto Grizzlies star Ja Morant on the game’s final possession to contest a missed layup at the horn.

Or at least, that’s how everyone except Morant saw it.

“I just missed the layup,” Morant told reporters during his post-game media availability, which drew a follow-up from the press corps:

“Ja, I know you say you just missed the layup but was there anything that — did Klay jump out at the last second and force you out a little bit wider?”


“Nah,” Morant replied, before shaking his head and letting out a dismissive chortle and cracking a smile.

Thompson himself begged to differ during his media availability.

“Obviously I thought he was going to attack, I did not think [Brandon] Clarke was going to shoot the last shot, I just knew it was going to go to their best player. He’s an incredible player in the key, I just tried to cut him off from getting an open layup and force him to make a tough shot and that’s what me and Gary [Payton II] did. Give credit also to [Warriors player development coach] Jacob Rubin — he’s the one who told me that out-of-bounds play was coming.”

The play in question came with just 3.6 seconds on the clock following a bizarre jump ball, after officials didn’t review who tapped the ball out of play (more on that in our story on the call). The Grizzlies won the tip, called timeout, and then put Morant a good 15 feet behind halfcourt. Desmond Bane inbounded the ball to Clarke at the top of the key, who passed to a hard-cutting Morant, who already had Payton beat and trailing. Thompson abandoned his man (Clarke) and picked up Morant at the 3-point line, slid his feet to force Morant wider left and then had a tough contest on a Morant scoop shot from the right block at an incredibly difficult angle.

The ball bounced harmlessly off the backboard, never even drawing iron.

Morant, who had a monster game (34 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds, 3 steals) in spite of the missed layup, added a second, equally dismissive “nah” and a chortle at the end of his post-game remarks when asked about whether his team addressed Draymond Green’s shocking ejection.

“We had the same game plan, no Draymond or Draymond,” he said.

That’s somewhat surprising considering Green has the best plus-minus of any Warrior this postseason, is a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time NBA all-defensive first teamer. But sure! Same game plan!

We’ll find out Tuesday whether that same game plan works with Green available for both the first and second half when Memphis hosts Game 2 at home at 6:30 pm

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