The controversial Memphis Grizzlies’ star guard Ja Morant made a return to the NBA after an eight-game suspension to help his team beat Houston Rockets in a 130-125 victory. Morant scored 17 points off the bench to help Grizzlies close out the game on Wednesday. This was the first time in his 4-year NBA career that Morant came off the bench. Grizzlies clinched the first spot in the Southwest with the victory.
The two-time All-Star guard Morant was undergoing counseling at a Florida facility for stress reliefafter he was placed on an eight-game suspension by the league following a string of bad behavior incidents that included flashing a gun on Instagram Live at a Denver strip club where he blew $50,000 in one night and allegedly punching a teenager in the face in a separate incident a couple of months earlier.
Morant’s return to the court was effective as he created five assists and four rebounds in just 24 minutes of play. Morant who is averaging 26.9 points with 8.1 assists this season, Morant is by far the best player for the Grizzlies in terms of point-scoring and assists.
Morant later told the media that he took a pre-game nap, meditated, and played with his young daughter “to ease the nerves. The emotions I was feeling from coming back. It was a lot. But it kind of helped me.”
“Once I got out there on the court and seen the fans reaction to me being back, it definitely helped me a lot, Made me feel good inside,” Morant said.
Head coach Jackson told the media that using Morant from the bench was meant to help him ease back into form and find peak physical strength. “He was very conscientious of how the team has been doing and really proud of that,” Jenkins said. “He understands what the team has done in his absence and the gravity of what they had to do given the circumstances. There is also the medical piece, too.”