Ja Morant pays homage to Derrick Rose after leading Grizzlies win over Knicks

New York Knicks, Ja Morant, Derrick Rose

Ja Morant put his best Derrick Rose impression in leading the Memphis Grizzlies’ 127-123 win over the New York Knicks Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Morant dished out his fifth career triple-double, logging in 27 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high 14 assists. He scored 10 points in the final 4:23 to will the Grizzlies to the victory.

Afterward, Morant gave one of his two worn and signed jerseys to Rose, whom he’s modeling his game after. The other jersey went to his father, Tee Morant, who asked for his jersey for the first time. Morant’s father wanted to keep it as a remembrance of his son’s legendary performance under the bright lights of the iconic Garden floor.

During the game, Morant had two brief moments against Derrick Rose, who played 11 minutes off the bench in his first game back from a toe injury. The Memphis guard missed a jumper against Rose. But Morant quickly made up for it with a sensational reverse layup, splitting Rose and Isaiah Hartenstein’s defense 20 seconds later.

“[Rose] really made it to where people believe in guys like me. Coming in, athletic guards, I felt like he was pretty much the one who kind of made it more famous. With how acrobatic his finish is, his touch around the rim, and how explosive he was. Coming in, he was my comparison. It’s crazy to be out there on the floor sharing a court with him.”

Ja Morant via Memphis Commercial Appeal

Morant and Rose are bonded by Memphis and their athletic gifts and quickness.

Before Morant, Rose was the most celebrated guard in Memphis, leading the Tigers to the national championship game against eventual champion Kansas in 2008. A few months later, Rose was drafted no. 1 overall by his hometown team, Chicago Bulls, which he led to their most successful stretch in the post-Michael Jordan era while becoming the youngest NBA in MVP history at 22 along the way.

Morant is doing the same to Memphis, leading the Grizzlies to their most successful years since the Grit n’ Grind era.

And the Knicks could only watch in envy as they missed drafting Morant in 2019 by one pick. Morant went second overall behind Zion Williamson, while the Knicks, who owned the worst record before the 2019 NBA Draft, settled for RJ Barrett with the no. 3 pick.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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