Ja Morant calls dunk on 7-footer Victor Wembanyama a 'late Christmas gift'

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Ja Morant said he didn't wake up wanting to dunk on Victor Wembanyama, but was happy to provide a "late Christmas gift" to his fans by jamming on the 7-footer during a Memphis Grizzlies victory.

The Grizzlies guard went airborne with 9:14 remaining in the 106-98 win over Wembanyama's San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday in Memphis.

"I'll take the dunk," Morant said at his postgame news conference. "That's what everybody wanted, so it's my gift. A late Christmas gift."

The Grizzlies led 86-70 at the start of the sequence. Morant took the ball and dribbled past half-court. He then went to his right, using a screen from center Bismack Biyombo to free himself from defender Tre Jones.

Morant then faced up with Wembanyama, doing a right-to-left crossover dribble to get him off balance. He bolted into the paint, picked up the ball with both hands and jumped as he extended his arms, finishing the play with an emphatic dunk over the 7-foot-4 center.

"It was just like any other moment for me with somebody guarding me," Morant said. "My goal was to score."

Morant scored 13 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. He also recorded 10 assists and five rebounds for the Grizzlies. The two-time All-Star, 2019-20 Rookie of the Year and 2021-22 All-NBA selection averaged 25.3 points, 8.1 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game through his first seven appearances this season.

Morant missed the start of the season, serving a 25-game suspension for a firearm-related incident -- his second such ban in the span of three months.

Wembanyama, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, led the Spurs with 20 points. He also recorded seven rebounds and four blocks. He is averaging 18.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and a league-high 3.1 blocks per game this season.

The Grizzlies (11-22) will host the Toronto Raptors at 8 p.m. EST Wednesday in Memphis. The Spurs (5-28) will host the Milwaukee Bucks at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in San Antonio.