Injured Grizzlies star Ja Morant unlikely to play in Game 4

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) reacts to an official's call during the second half of Game 3 of the team's NBA basketball Western Conference playoff semifinal against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Saturday, May 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Jeff Chiu, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN FRANCISCO – Memphis guard Ja Morant is unlikely to play in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against Golden State on Monday night after injuring his right knee on a play with Jordan Poole that the teams are debating from the Grizzlies' 142-112 loss Saturday night.

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Sunday he doesn't expect Morant to be available with Memphis trailing the Warriors 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

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“As I said last night, just trying to be matter of fact here, and this is what Ja says, what our medical team has said after reviewing the play, Ja was playing great, feeling great all game and that the grab of the knee is what triggered the potential injury and why we took Ja out of the game. Nothing's changed from there," Jenkins said. "That's the play that triggered this and he's got further evaluation going on. ... There’s probably a really good chance he doesn’t play tomorrow.”

Morant, who limped off with 6:19 remaining in the game, was unable to do any basketball activity Sunday, Jenkins said.

“If he's not able to go, we rally as a team and that's what we're focused on,” Jenkins said. “We're not trying to get caught up in narratives. That's why I'm just being matter of fact that this injury is caused by that play. I'm not going into any further detail outside of that. And then the fact that our team all season long has risen to the occasion when anybody's been out. Obviously Ja's been out for a number of games and our guys stepped up beautifully.”

Morant left Chase Center without speaking to reporters but posted and later deleted a video of the play on his Twitter feed with the words “broke the code,” a reference Warriors coach Steve Kerr had used four days earlier when Dillon Brooks’ hard foul in Game 2 sidelined Gary Payton II.

Poole and Andrew Wiggins swarmed Morant as he dribbled at the top of the 3-point arc when Morant struggled to keep possession — and Poole called it a basketball play with him going for the ball.

On Sunday, Kerr shrugged several times when asked about it and said he saw no need to discuss the latest back-and-forth between the franchises.

“I don’t have a take. Nothing to comment on. I watched the tape,” Kerr said. “... No, I don’t take it personally. I watched the play, there’s nothing to comment on.”

Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones called it an “interesting” play but said he didn't believe Poole had malicious intent to hurt Morant.

“Ja's spirits are good. Obviously. he's frustrated. Anytime you're hurt or banged up you're frustrated,” Jones said. “... The play I just think it was an interesting play. I don't think Poole or anybody in this series for that matter is necessarily a dirty player. But it was just an interesting play. That's all I can really say on that. It was not a normal play that normally happens but I don't think he was trying to injure 12 by any means."


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