The budding warrior and grizzly rivalry between Klay Thompson and Ja Morant

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January 9, 2022; Los Angeles, California, United States; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) reacts against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the NBA’s hottest merchandise – not to mention Stephen Curry, who will also be on hand – will be on display Tuesday night when the Golden State Warriors continue their budding rivalry with host Memphis Grizzlies.

Triggered by a Klay Thompson dunk and Ja Morant block, the Warriors and Grizzlies struggled some of the spotlight away from an epic NFL final day on Sunday, building momentum for their third meeting of the year and fifth since the last day of the 2021 regular season.

The clubs split head-to-head earlier this year, each garnering far more attention than your average NBA regular-season competition.

It all started when the Grizzlies improbably duplicated their victory over the Warriors last May with another overtime triumph in Week 2 of the regular season.

Then, two days before Christmas, Golden State, which had won a playoff berth with a win in the 2021 regular season finals, finally avenged the eventual rejection of the offer with a victory of 113-104.

All four games were played in San Francisco.

The scene is now moving to Memphis, with the Grizzlies, on the strength of a nine-game winning streak, having moved within 3 1/2 games of the Warriors in the Western standings after playing eight games on November 29.

Morant led the Grizzlies charge. Just a week away from a knee sprain that sidelined him for 12 games, the 2020 Rookie of the Year streaked 33, 41, 30 and 36 points to ignite the franchise record of Memphis with nine straight wins.

As impressive as Morant’s numbers are, the teams they’ve faced off against – the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Brooklyn Nets.

Morant doubled his fun in a Route 127-119 win over the Lakers on Sunday, shooting a LeBron James past the LA superstar with a two-handed sweep block on an Avery Bradley layup early in the win. .

“He got rockets in his calf muscles,” James said of Morant afterward. “It was a spectacular piece. It was a big room. Greet.”

Morant scored 30 points in the previous win over the Warriors, then 21 in the rematch. The second of those outings was flanked flanked by peerless sidekick Dillon Brooks, who suffered an ankle injury on Saturday and won’t face the Warriors, and both were compiled without the defensive endurance of Thompson, who was still rehabilitating a torn ACL that resulted from rehabilitating a torn Achilles.

Thompson needed just 40 seconds on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers to score his first points since the 2019 NBA Finals.

The hoop got Warriors fans up, but the best was yet to come. This happened at the end of the second period, when Thompson, best known for his wrestling prowess, led by taller opponent Jarrett Allen for a thundering dunk which officially marked his Achilles and knee as being fully repaired.

“It’s funny because I didn’t dunk during the two-month scrum,” said Thompson after his 17-point night. “It was so good to throw this away. I did not expect that.

“I am very satisfied with my efforts tonight. I missed some shots that I always do, but I’m just happy to be able to say it because I couldn’t say it for the past two years. I can go back, watch the movie again and see how I will be better for Memphis.

Thompson hasn’t faced the Grizzlies since April 2019, and that barely matters. He only played the first half of the Warriors’ regular season finals, scoring 19 points in 17 minutes, before being rested for the start of the race on a fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals.

–Field level media

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