The Warriors thumped the Grizzlies on Saturday, 142-112, to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round matchup in the NBA Playoffs, but that’s not the No. 1 topic of conversation in the game’s aftermath. Not with an injury to Memphis’ star guard Ja Morant — and a wild postgame accusation from Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins.
Jenkins said that Warriors guard Jordan Poole actually caused Morant’s injury by pulling Morant’s knee while defending Morant in the fourth quarter.
“He was going after a dribble and Poole actually grabbed his knee and yanked it, which kinda triggered whatever happened,” Jenkins said. “So, I’m actually gonna be very curious to see what happens after that.”The Athletic
That was a rather casual accusation from Jenkins. Here’s the play in question, though it’s not 100 percent clear this is the play that caused the injury. It seems likely that it is, however. The highlight below includes a statement from Poole as well.
Poole was asked about the play because, in addition to Jenkins’ statement, Morant tweeted — and then deleted — a spicy and way-too-soon take on the play, drawing a comparison to Dillon Brooks’ foul on Warriors guard Gary Payton II, which took place in Game 2. As you probably recall, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Brooks “broke the code” on that play.
While it’s very possible that Poole’s touch on Morant’s knee, which came in a frenzied situation when he was going for a steal, had a hand in Morant’s injury, to say Poole “yanked” Morant’s knee is seriously absurd. Plus, Morant’s knee may have been injured earlier on a close out to the 3-point line on Warriors guard Klay Thompson.
Additionally, Morant banged knees with Poole before the knee-touch. Morant has injured that knee often, to add yet another layer to the story. The injury may have been the result of an accumulation of knee tweaks throughout the game.
Morant’s deleted tweet led some Warriors fans to call out Morant for a play on Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry ealier in the series as well. Drama on drama on drama.
It’s obvious that everyone on the Warriors hopes Morant is okay and can play in the next game, no matter what Jenkins may think. His statement was nuts, but at least he was trying to protect his player. Morant’s tweet was seriously shortsighted, however, and not very well thought out. Poole’s pay was nothing close to what Brooks did to Payton. There’s no question about that. It’s no wonder Morant deleted the tweet.
But with or without Morant, the Warriors have a serious test in front of them. The Grizzlies played exceptionally well without their superstar during the regular season. Plus, I’ve got a hunch Morant will be back, anyway. The entire NBA will be watching — for more basketball, and probably for more drama as well.
UPDATE: In no surprise at all, the NBA didn’t make any disciplinary moves regarding the play between Poole and Morant.