MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies pulled off another incredible comeback win Tuesday, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-109 in a Game 5 for the ages at FedExForum.
The Grizzlies didn't always look like a team that won 56 games in the regular season, good enough for the #2 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, but they rallied when it counted, overcoming an 11-point lead with just 6:58 left in the game.
Here's the key takeaways to the Grizzlies' thrilling win.
Ja Morant doing Ja Morant things
This first round series hasn't always been the most friendly for the Grizzlies' superstar point guard.
In a home Game 1 loss, Ja posted 32 points, but admitted he didn't play up to his level.
After scoring 23 points in Game 2 and recording a triple-double, the first in team playoff history, in Game 3, Ja was effectively shut down in Game 4, scoring just 11 points and saying in the postgame that he wasn't, "the same Ja."
Through the first two and a half quarters of Game 5, it looked like Ja was off.
The NBA's Most Improved Player this season had just 14 points late in the 3rd quarter, and had missed six free throws.
In the final seconds of the quarter, the face of the franchise turned it up to another level.
Ja infused energy back into a dormant FedExForum crowd late in the 3rd with one of the most dominating dunks in NBA Playoff history, posterizing the Timberwolves' Malik Beasley and bringing everyone in the arena to their feet.
That seemed to bring the momentum back to the Grizzlies, which up until that point had very little in their favor.
The team opened the second half down by just two points, but quickly found themselves down by double digits, thanks to poor shooting from the floor and at the free throw line.
Slowly, the Grizzlies chipped away at the Timberwolves' lead in the 4th quarter, led by Morant, but the Timberwolves, and Karl Anthony Towns, kept pulling away, up 99-88 with 6:58 left in the game after Towns made three clutch free throws.
Before anyone could blink, the Grizzlies and Morant rattled off a 10-0 run to make it a one-point game, and Ja elevated his play to an even higher level after that.
Ja would score the final 13 points in the game for the Grizzlies, including a clutch three pointer with 1:03 left in the game to give the Grizzlies their first lead since the first quarter, 107-106.
After he was fouled on a turnover, Morant hit two clutch free throws to give the team a three-point lead with just 8.2 seconds left in the game.
However, the Timberwolves dialed up a perfect set piece that found young sensation Anthony Edwards in the corner, who drained a game-tying three pointer with just over three seconds left.
That's when the Grizzlies found their man.
Morant drove to mid-court to grab an inbound pass from Desmond Bane, shaking Edwards, his defender, and crashing a wide-open lane for a game-winning layup with one second left.
"Go get a bucket, Ja," Morant said postgame, when asked to breakdown the final play.
The 2022 NBA All-Star had scored his team's final 13 points. It was the first time a player 22 years old or younger scored that many points to close out an NBA Playoff game since Lebron James did it in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals.
The Comeback Kids
The Grizzlies made NBA history Tuesday night when they recorded their second double-digit fourth-quarter comeback in a single playoff series, the first ever team to do so.
Only the Miami Heat in 2020 had done so twice in a single postseason, albeit in two different series.
In Game 3, the Grizzlies came back from multiple 25-point leads, including a 16-point deficit in the 4th quarter, to stun the Timberwolves in Minnesota.
They nearly came back against the Wolves in Game 4, falling by just one point in a game they trailed by eight in the 4th.
Game 5 was another example of resilience.
After jumping out of the gate to a 13-2 lead, the Grizzlies faltered, surrendering their lead and falling behind, by as much as 13 points in the 4th quarter.
"We need to stop doing that," Ja Morant said in his postgame comments, referring to getting down to large deficits late in games.
Brandon Clarke continues to be a playoff MVP
Grizzlies sixth man Brandon Clarke recorded a double-double off the bench Tuesday, scoring 21 points along with 15 rebounds.
Clarke was the catalyst to the Grizzlies' Game 3 comeback, and proved invaluable in their Game 5 effort as well.
He made two huge high-effort plays in the 4th quarter, one to trim the lead to one point, and the other, a leaping blind pass from the rim that found Ja Morant beyond the three point line, which led to Ja's go-ahead three with just one minute left.
Clarke has continued to prove his value as a ball hawk, averaging 8.6 rebounds per game in five playoff games along with 16.4 points per game.
All eyes on Memphis
The sports world was buzzing about the Grizzlies, both during and after the game.
Perhaps the most talked about incident at the game was when Tee Morant, Ja Morant's father, sat courtside next to pop superstar Usher, who Tee has been called a doppelganger of.
Other national celebrities that joined the party included NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, comedian Kat Williams, baseball superstar and co-owner of the Timberwolves Alex Rodriguez, and Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari.
The FedExForum erupted when the game ended, with Memphis rapper Al Kapone shouting out the anthem "Whoop That Trick," which has become a popular postgame ritual for Memphis sports, with the Memphis crowd chanting along.
With the Grizzlies now up 3-2 in their first round series, the expectation for them to close it out in Minnesota for Game 6 Friday is high.
In what has proven to be a highly entertaining series between two well-matched teams, Memphis provided the highlight Tuesday.
A playoff run that is still young may yet yield more hallmark moments for the team, but for now, Memphis is finally the talk of the sports world.