Ja Morant’s Buzzer-Beating Layup Completed An 11-Point Fourth Quarter Comeback In Game 5

Memphis and Minnesota entered Tuesday night having gone back-and-forth for four games, trading haymakers in a wild first round series. Game 5 was no different as Memphis jumped out to a quick 13-2 lead, only to trail by three after the first quarter. Minnesota then took a 10-point lead, with the Grizzlies clawing back to trail by just two at the half.

The Timberwolves then seized control in the third quarter, leading by 13 late, before Ja Morant woke up the Memphis crowd with a massive dunk that was a harbinger of things to come.

The Wolves would still maintain control with seven minutes to play, leading by 11, but went scoreless for two and a half minutes to allow the Grizzlies to cut the lead to one with 4:36 to play. The two teams would trade buckets from there, with Karl-Anthony Towns pushing Minnesota’s lead back up to four with a huge three with just under two minutes to play.

Despite Towns being the leading scorer for Minnesota on the night, that was his first shot since there were over six minutes to play (and would be his last shot of the night) as the Wolves went away from their big man late. After a pair of Morant free throws, Anthony Edwards missed a pull-up jumper and Memphis pushed it up the floor for a Tyus Jones three that got tapped back out by Brandon Clarke right to Morant, who picked the right time to hit his first three of the night, giving Memphis a one-point lead.

Throughout the closing stretch, the Timberwolves struggled in their halfcourt offense, as Edwards and D’Angelo Russell got iso-happy and failed to create good looks for themselves or others, missing a number of contested jumpers. After Morant’s three to take the lead, Russell pulled up and missed the rim on an elbow shot after pulling it back in a 5-on-4 situation, which Memphis rebounded quickly and got to Morant for free throws. He drilled both and this time Chris Finch used Minnesota’s final timeout to draw up a gorgeous play to set up Edwards on a catch-and-shoot three from the corner, freeing him with a backscreen on Morant who got caught ball-watching.

The Grizzlies called timeout and to the surprise of no one, called Morant’s number with 3.7 seconds to play. Somehow, Edwards played Morant top side and tried to get a steal, allowing Morant a free run at the rim where he hit a scooping lefty layup around a late contest to beat the buzzer and give Memphis the win.

Morant finished the night with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists, taking over down the stretch and turning around what had been a fairly rough performance in the final 13 minutes of action. The star of the game for Memphis beyond Morant was undoubtedly Brandon Clarke, who gave them 21 points and an outrageous 15 rebounds off the bench, nine of which came on the offensive end to continuously give the Grizzlies second-chance opportunities — Desmond Bane also had 25 points providing his usual steady scoring touch from the perimeter.

On the Timberwolves side, Towns was terrific with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but did have seven turnovers and five fouls as he continues to find himself in foul trouble. Edwards had 22 points but needed 20 shots to get there, and seemed to be pressing trying to put the game away late rather than running actual offensive sets. Russell had 12 points and eight assists, and fell into some of the same trappings late as Edwards, as Minnesota’s offense fell flat at the worst possible time — a theme of their losses this series.

Now the series heads back to Minneapolis where the Wolves will need a win to force a Game 7 in a series that has featured some wild swings from game-to-game and even quarter-to-quarter.