Grizzlies’ Ja Morant gives up 17 career assists against Raptors

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Ja Morant held a passing clinic in the Memphis Grizzlies’ 119-106 win over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night. In 36 minutes of action, Morant dropped a career-high 17 assists to go along with 19 points and four rebounds. Morant’s previous record in assists was 14.

The Grizzlies electric guard set the Toronto defense apart all night and set the tone for his team with his play. He had three assists in the first quarter, five in the second, seven in the third and two more in the last quarter. Morant collected all of those passes while returning the ball a total of three times, which makes the performance all the more impressive.

Check out highlights from Morant’s career passing performance below:

Developing as a playmaker is part of Morant’s evolution of the game. He’s already established himself as an elite goalscorer and he’s constantly learning how to leverage that ability to generate chances for others. He’s averaging a record number of assists per game this season, and his improvement in that area was on full display on Thursday night.

“It’s super impressive,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said of Morant’s performance after the game. “A lot of credit to Ja. That just sets the tone for us. His selflessness, we talk about it all the time.”

For Morant to rack up the assists, he needed his teammates to finish his passing plays, and they did just that. Memphis’ five starters finished in double digits, led by Dillon Brooks, who had 25 points while shooting seven of 14 from the floor. Pascal Siakam led the way for Toronto with 25 points and 10 rebounds, but his production wasn’t enough to propel Toronto to a win.

The win over the Raptors was much needed for the Grizzlies, who have lost four of their previous five games in Toronto, including one hard loss on christmas day to the shorthanded Golden State Warriors. As a result of that brief slip, the Grizzlies fell to third in the Western Conference standings after previously holding first place. They are now just one game behind the New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets for first place in the West.

Morant’s career high in assists came just one night after Pelicans forward Zion Williamson lost a career-high 43 points in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s safe to say that the top of the 2019 NBA Draft lives up to expectations.

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