Ja Morant often makes the spectacular look routine. The young Memphis Grizzlies star added another viral clip to his highlight reel Monday.
Morant threw down a soaring, one-handed alley-oop on a fastbreak against the Boston Celtics that thrilled the small home crowd at FedEx Forum and left his coach and teammates wondering how he does it.
Midway through the third quarter, Dillon Brooks got a steal and started a 2-on-1 break from the right side. Brooks tossed it up for Morant, who was running down the left side of the lane. Morant leapt off two feet, snagged the ball behind his head with his left hand and punched it home one-handed.
JA MORANT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN @JaMorant | #GrindCitypic.twitter.com/AVsHmaeE4J
Ja Morant catches and finishes the oop with the left 🤯 pic.twitter.com/BFS3IfJqGX
"I told him to put it by the rim and I'll go get it," Morant said.
Morant finished with a game-high 29 points as the Grizzlies prevailed 132-126 in overtime. He clinched the win with three free throws in the final 20 seconds.
The victory got Memphis back to .500 at 20-20. However, the dunk was the biggest topic of conversation after the game.
"I look at everyone else doing their celebrations and I'm like, 'This isn't normal,' " said Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane. "Some of the dunks, some of the acrobatic plays he makes, it's special. He's special."
Here are four more things to know today in the NBA:
One slide ends, one continues
The Houston Rockets finally got back in the win column Monday, beating the Toronto Raptors 117-99 to snap a franchise-record 20-game losing streak. One night after giving a despondent postgame interview, coach Stephen Silas was all smiles as he described the "happy and joyous" scene in the Houston locker room.
Stephen Silas on the 20-game losing streak ending: “It’s like indescribable…To go in the locker and everybody’s happy and joyous. It’s super-cool.” pic.twitter.com/UCwr3RQLnK
With the Rockets' slide over, the Raptors now own the NBA's longest active losing streak at nine games. Toronto has fallen to 17-26 and 11th in the Eastern Conference and could face some tough decisions on what to do with key veterans ahead of Thursday's trade deadline.
Another MVP candidate on the shelf?
Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out Monday with a sprained left knee, but the Milwaukee Bucks had little trouble dispatching the Indiana Pacers 140-113. The two-time reigning MVP was injured in Saturday's game, and the team elected to sit him as a precaution. The injury isn't thought to be serious, but Antetokounmpo's status for Milwaukee's next game Wednesday is uncertain. Without him Monday, the Bucks still provided plenty of reasons to cheer as they rolled to their seventh straight win and 12th in 13 games.
Jrue: Making it rain.
Meanwhile, Giannis: 😴 pic.twitter.com/f5GAgKHXrp
Kyrie Irving won't travel with the Brooklyn Nets on their upcoming road trip while he attends to a family matter, the team said Monday. Irving will miss Brooklyn's next three games: Tuesday in Portland, Wednesday in Utah and Friday in Detroit. The Nets have weathered absences by their stars all season. Kevin Durant has missed over a month with a hamstring injury, but the Nets have won 15 of their last 17 games to supplant the Lakers as championship favorites at some sportsbooks.
Game of the night: Nets at Blazers
The Nets' trip without Irving begins Tuesday against the Blazers, who have dealt with their share of injuries this season. C.J. McCollum just returned from a broken foot last week. Jusuf Nurkic (fractured wrist) and Zach Collins (ankle surgery) remain sidelined. Still, the Blazers are sixth in the Western Conference thanks to the continued scoring mastery of Damian Lillard.
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.
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