The Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets are two young teams on opposite ends of the NBA’s contention hierarchy. Memphis has a real shot to go to the 2023 NBA Finals with young co-stars and legitimate depth around the supernova that is Ja Morant. Charlotte is currently tied for the fewest wins in basketball, and will spend the rest of this season psyching itself up for the Victor Wembanyama derby in the lottery.
The Grizzlies were putting a beatdown on the Hornets on Wednesday night. Memphis had turned the game into a rout from the opening tip and took a 29-point lead into halftime. All the Grizzlies really wanted to do after that was run out the game clock, and Morant dared to do it in the most audacious way possible.
Late in the third quarter, the Grizzlies rolled the ball to Morant on the inbounds pass, and Morant let it sit there for 20 seconds while time ticked away on the game clock. Watch the game clock here.
Morant knew exactly what he was doing. This isn’t the first time he’s pulled this exact move this season. Personally, I blame the Boston Celtics for popularizing it.
Before the last two minutes, the game clock runs on made baskets. The shot clock doesn’t start until a player touches the ball. Teams have been rolling the ball up on the inbounds pass for decades as a way to save time in late game situations. Now, Morant and other teams are rolling the ball up as a waste time before the other team forces them to make a play.
Is this a loophole the NBA will look into closing? The league’s decision to address take fouls over the offseason has made for a more watchable product this year. Expect more players and more teams to try to do it until the league decides if they want to try to fix it.