Grizzlies’ Morant scoops NBA Rookie of Year award

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, named winner of the Rookie of the Year award for 2019-20, attempts a dunk as Brooklyn Nets forward Wilson Chandler (21) and guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (9) in this file photo. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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Updated 04 September 2020

Grizzlies’ Morant scoops NBA Rookie of Year award

  • Morant tallied 498 points under a polling system that offered five points for a first-place vote, three for a second-place vote and one for a third-place vote
  • Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn finished in second place and Pelicans forward Zion Williamson finished third 

MIAMI: Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant was a runaway winner for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award announced Thursday, receiving 99 out of a possible 100 first-place votes.
Morant became the club’s second player to scoop the award, following in the footsteps of Spain’s Pau Gasol, who won it in 2002.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, the top overall pick in last year’s NBA draft, claimed the only other first-place vote, the league said in results released on Thursday.
In the polling of 100 global sportswriters and broadcasters, Morant tallied 498 points under the system that offered five points for a first-place vote, three for a second-place vote and one for a third-place vote.
Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn finished in second place with 204 points and Williamson finished third with 140 points.
The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11, when the season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seeding games, which were played July 30 — August 14 as part of the season restart, did not count toward voting.
But Morant, who was taken second overall in the 2019 draft, helped the Grizzlies contend for a playoff berth in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
He scored a career-high 35 points as the Grizzlies fell to the Portland Trail Blazers in a play-in game for the eighth and final Western Conference post-season spot — bringing his stellar rookie campaign to a close.
From the beginning of the season through March 11, Morant led all qualified NBA rookies in scoring with 16.6 points per game and assists with 6.9 per game.
He shot 49.1% from the field in 59 games. During that period, Morant was one of three NBA players to average at least 17.0 points and 6.0 assists and shoot 49.0 percent or better from the field, joining 2020 NBA All-Stars LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.
His 11 double-doubles in that span were a rookie high, and he produced the only triple-double by a rookie when he finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the Washington Wizards on February 9.
He had at least 20 points and 10 assists in seven games, including a 27-point, 14-assist performance against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 29.
Morant showed plenty of poise for a rookie, finishing ninth in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring.


Rays rally with walkoff stunner to level World Series against Dodgers

Updated 26 October 2020

Rays rally with walkoff stunner to level World Series against Dodgers

ARLINGTON, United States: Brett Phillips’s single scored two runs and the Tampa Bay Rays walked off with a stunning 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday that knotted the World Series at two games apiece.
The Rays became the first team in post-season history to homer in four straight innings, but they trailed 7-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
With two out and two on, Phillips — who entered the game in the eighth as a pinch runner — was down to his last strike in the ninth when he singled to right center field off Dodgers closing pitcher Kenley Jansen and Kevin Kiermaier scored from second base.
Randy Arozarena racing from first, rounded third after the ball bounced off the glove of Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor.
Arozarena tripped between third and home and looked done for, but Dodgers catcher Will Smith bobbled the throw to the plate and Arozarena was able to scramble forward and throw himself headfirst across the plate in time.
“Golly, what a special moment,” said Phillips, who last got a hit in the Rays’ 58th game of the regular season on September 25.
“I am having a hard time putting my emotions into words,” Phillips said. “Baseball is fun.”
Kiermaier called the ending — which sent the Rays into a frenzy of celebration on Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, “truly incredible.”
Arozarena notched a record-breaking ninth home run of the post-season. Kiermaier, Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Lowe also homered for the Rays, who are seeking the first World Series title in franchise history.
The Dodgers, back in the World Series for a third time in four years after disappointments in 2017 and 2018, are seeking their seventh title — but a first since 1988.
“This is certainly a tough one,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “They were the best team all year in the American League.
“They are not going to give anything away. We’ve got to regroup and get ready for tomorrow.”
The spectacular ending, capped a tense back-and-forth battle with a World Series record eight straight half-innings with a run scored.
Justin Turner and Corey Seager homered for the Dodgers. Seager’s was his eighth of the playoffs, temporarily tying the single post-season record until Arozarena notched his ninth in the fourth frame.
For the second game in a row Turner got things rolling with a solo homer in the first inning.
Seager added a solo shot in the top of the third that put the Dodgers up 2-0, but Arozarena pulled back a run in the bottom of the fourth with a lead-off blast to right centerfield off a 95 mph fastball from Julio Urias.
Los Angeles stretched the lead to 3-1 in the fifth when Seager singled off Rays relief pitcher Pete Fairbanks and reached second on a wild pitch. With two outs in the inning Max Muncy reached first on a sharp line drive to right field that scored Seager.
The Rays responded with a home run from Renfroe to cut the margin to one run in the bottom of the fifth.
The Dodgers pushed the lead back to two in the top of the sixth when Enrique Hernandez fired a double down the left field line that scored two.
But Lowe — the two-homer hero of the Rays’ game-two victory — put the Rays in front for the first time with a three-run blast off Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez in the bottom of the sixth.
In the seventh, Dodgers pinch-hitter Joc Pederson came up with the bases loaded and two out and delivered a two-run single that put Los Angeles back in front.
All seven Dodgers runs came with two outs — continuing a trend for them this series.
The Rays however, wouldn’t be denied, Kiermaier’s homer off Baez knotting the score at 6-6.
“We have no quit,” Kiermaier said. “We have been doing that all year. We’ve been the comeback kids. To do it on the big stage makes it that much sweeter.”