The NBA regular season is ridiculously long, and there are times when the constant stream of games can make each singular one feel meaningless. But even among the deluge, there are certain games that manage to stand out, such as the Memphis Grizzlies’ wild overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
With less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies trailed by 13 points and appeared to be heading toward a second straight defeat. Instead, they went on an 18-2 run over the next four minutes to take the lead, and would have won in regulation if it wasn’t for an unbelievable shot by Karl-Anthony Towns.
As it was, they prevailed in overtime, pulling away in the final few minutes of a somewhat uneventful extra frame for a 125-118 win. Ja Morant finished with 33 points, six rebounds and eight assists in another big-time performance, while Towns went for 25 points and 13 rebounds in defeat.
If you were watching this one live, congratulations on getting to experience the magic of the regular season. If you weren’t, let’s walk through some of the best moments down the stretch, because it really was an ending you need to see to believe.
56.3 — 31.5 seconds: Morant magic
As the Grizzlies looked to complete their comeback, Ja Morant decided to take things into his own hands and delivered back-to-back clutch buckets in typically impressive fashion. First, he completely shook Jaden McDaniels with a nasty crossover and careened down the lane for a huge dunk to tie the score.
After the Grizzlies got a stop, he came down and called for a screen so he could get Karl-Anthony Towns on the switch. The big man clearly wasn’t comfortable on the perimeter and had his hands down by his sides, which gave Morant all the space he needed to rise up and bury the triple to give the Grizzlies the lead.
24 seconds: Grizzlies can’t get the ball over midcourt
We’ll skip ahead now to 24 seconds remaining, with the Grizzlies holding on to a one-point lead. Instead of fouling immediately, the Timberwolves put on some full-court pressure to try and force a turnover. Their plan worked, as they got a trap on Desmond Bane, then forced De’Anthony Melton to throw a tough bounce pass that Kyle Anderson mishandled.
The initial call was out of bounds off the Timberwolves, but since the Grizzlies hadn’t gotten the ball over midcourt, it was changed to an eight-second violation.
16 seconds: Goaltending overturned
After getting the ball back, the Timberwolves had a chance to take the lead. D’Angelo Russell — who had 30 points, five rebounds and seven assists on the night — called for an isolation at the top of the key and was able to get a step on Ja Morant. But as he got into the lane, Jaren Jackson Jr. came flying over from the corner to swat his finger roll away.
The officials first called JJJ for goaltending, but upon review it was overturned to a clean block, and an incredible one at that.
3.9 seconds: An embarrassing five-second violation
Because neither team had possession when the play was blown dead on Jackson’s overturned block, they went to a jump ball at the center circle. Jackson won the tip but knocked the ball out of bounds in the process, giving the Timberwolves yet another chance to go back in front.
Or, they would have had another chance if they could have gotten the ball inbounds. Instead, the Timberwolves turned it right back over to the Grizzlies with an embarrassing five-second call. D’Angelo Russell was trying his best to shake free, but he was shadowed by two defenders and had no luck. Meanwhile, all of his teammates were just sort of hanging out on the far side of the court, and none of them ever came to the ball.
0.0 seconds: Towns makes one of the shots of the year
The Timberwolves quickly fouled to send the Grizzlies to the line, and Ja Morant hit two free throws to make it a three-point game. With no timeouts left, the Timberwolves were in a tough spot and tried to throw a deep pass the length of the court. Luckily for them, it was deflected out of bounds, giving them another chance to run a play closer to the basket.
In truth, they didn’t exactly get a great look, and ended up forcing the ball in to Karl-Anthony Towns near midcourt. Somehow he made it work, and tossed up a 40-footer at the buzzer that crashed in off the glass to send the game to overtime. Just truly an absurd shot.
From the chaos to the mistakes to the incredible plays, this was peak regular-season basketball. And unlike most games this time of year, we’ll be remembering this one for some time to come.