CLEVELAND — Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant debuted as a starter in the All-Star Game on Sunday and was the second-to-last starter introduced. He received one of the loudest introductions among players on Team Durant.
He didn’t waste much time sending the crowd into ooos and ahhs with two of the best dunks in the first half.
The target score was set at 163 as Team LeBron traded baskets with Team Durant. A LeBron James fadeaway gave Team LeBron a 163-160 win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Morant didn’t play much in the second half. He finished with six points and three assists in 18 minutes. The minute total ranked seventh on Team LeBron. He had an off-the-glass assist to Joel Embiid to go with his two dunks that had him buzzing on social media.
“Pretty much just enjoy the moment and have fun,” Morant said of his mentality. “I wasn’t trying to do too much. Saving my energy for the second half of the season.”
Morant glides backward
Morant was coasting the first few possessions, barely crossing halfcourt on some. But then he gave the Cleveland crowd something to see. Trae Young was running point guard with Morant playing off the ball.
Young threw an alley-oop to Morant, who was pacing his steps down the left wing before throwing down a two-handed backward dunk.
The dunk produced one of the loudest reactions in the first quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
After the game, Morant was asked what it would take for him to be in the slam dunk contest.
“Nothing,” Morant said. “Just if I want to, I will. The answer might change, I don’t know. As of right now, nah.”
“The goal is not high enough,” he added.
Stays in the air
Morant has the ability to make difficult dunks look easy. Such was the case on a 35-foot alley-oop, 360-degree dunk in the second quarter.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Ja Morant highlight dunks, plays in 2022 NBA All-Star Game