Memphis Grizzlies fans were dealt a significant blow in the team’s playoff opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, as their All-Star guard, Ja Morant, left the game late in the fourth quarter due to a right hand injury. The Grizzlies ultimately lost Game 1 with a score of 128-112.
The incident occurred during a two-possession game when Morant re-injured his right hand in a failed dunk attempt over Lakers’ star Anthony Davis. Morant had previously sustained a right hand injury on April 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks, where he jammed his hand defending Jae Crowder. Following that game, X-rays were negative, and Morant continued to play with his hand taped up.
However, in Game 1 against the Lakers, Morant fell awkwardly after colliding with Davis in mid-air, appearing to hurt his hand while trying to break his fall. The Grizzlies guard left the game and headed to the locker room, not returning to the court for the remainder of the contest.
Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins shared with reporters that Morant was “in some pain,” but X-rays taken after the game came back negative. The team plans to monitor Morant’s status before their next game. When asked about his availability for Game 2, Morant admitted it was “in jeopardy,” according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
The Grizzlies trailed by only four points with just under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter at the time of Morant’s injury. His inability to return to the game could provide some context on the severity of his hand injury. The Grizzlies will need their star player in top form if they hope to make a deep playoff run.
The playoff series between the Grizzlies and the Lakers continues with Game 2 scheduled for April 19 at FedExForum, followed by two days of rest before Game 3 at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Despite Morant’s injury, the Lakers managed to secure their Game 1 victory with impressive performances from Rui Hachimura, who scored 29 points off the bench, and Austin Reaves, who contributed 14 points in the fourth quarter.
As the series progresses, fans and the Grizzlies organization will be keeping a close eye on Morant’s injury status and hoping for a speedy recovery for the young star.