In a stunning return after a 25-game suspension, Ja Morant propelled the Memphis Grizzlies to a thrilling 115-113 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans with a game-winning buzzer-beater. Morant, who had been absent for the entire season due to an NBA suspension, made a memorable comeback, showcasing his resilience and clutch performance.
Morant’s suspension stemmed from his involvement in two incidents where he appeared to brandish a gun on Instagram Live. The NBA penalized him with an eight-game suspension for the first incident and a 25-game suspension without pay for the second. The Grizzlies struggled in his absence, with a 7-19 record, ranking 13th in the Western Conference.
On his return, Morant delivered a joint game-high 34 points, along with six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. His impactful presence was felt on and off the court, providing a significant boost to the team’s morale.
LeBron James, ahead of the game, encouraged Morant with a message on social media: “Go be GREAT again!!”
The electrifying atmosphere peaked when Morant sealed the win with a mesmerizing buzzer-beater. The 24-year-old guard executed a spin move in the lane, maneuvering through defenders and banking the ball off the backboard as time expired.
Speaking about his comeback, Morant expressed his excitement, stating, “I’m a dog… basketball is my life and what I love.” He acknowledged the support of his teammates, referring to them as “brothers” who stood by him during the suspension.
The Grizzlies, now 7-19 and five-and-a-half games away from an automatic playoff spot, look to Morant’s return as a potential catalyst for an improved season. Morant received ample support from Jaren Jackson Jr., who contributed 24 points and six rebounds, and Desmond Bane, who added 21 points and four assists.
Despite the Pelicans’ efforts, led by Brandon Ingram’s 34 points, the Grizzlies halted their four-game winning streak. The stage is now set for Memphis to build on Morant’s return and aim for a stronger performance in the remainder of the season.
Morant’s triumphant comeback not only marks a significant moment for the Grizzlies but also serves as a personal victory for the young guard, who faced adversity and criticism during his suspension. With the season back in full swing, Morant’s return adds a new dimension to the team’s aspirations, leaving fans and teammates eagerly anticipating what lies ahead.