- Morant returned to an NBA court on Tuesday night after serving a 25-game ban
- He scored a superb game winner to hand the Grizzlies a win over New Orleans
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Ja Morant made an emphatic return to NBA action on Tuesday night as he scored the game winner to give the Grizzlies the win over the Pelicans.
Morant stepped onto the court for the first time this season as Memphis took on the Pelicans in New Orleans after serving a 25-game suspension for gun play.
He was met by a furious reaction from the Louisiana crowd earlier in the night, being booed and jeered throughout.
But he produced an outstanding performance to hand the Grizzles a remarkable win on his return.
Footage from inside the arena earlier in the night showed how he was booed when he was introduced to the crowd beforehand.
Ja Morant made an emphatic return to NBA action, hading the Grizzlies a win over the Pelicans
Then, when he picked up the ball, the boos continued to rain down from the arena after his lengthy absence from the court.
He didn’t take long to score his first points of the season, though. Morant beat the Pelicans’ Jonas Valanciunas to a rebound before scoring in the first quarter.
Morant was awarded a foul early in the first quarter and was met by deafening boos as he stepped up to the free-throw line.
Despite Morant’s return, the Grizzlies struggled and found themselves trailing 60-41 at halftime.
Morant played 16 minutes in the first half, scored seven points and provided three assists. He also managed just one rebound.
Footage from inside the arena shows he was booed when he was introduced to the crowd
Morant was singing with friends when caught holding up a handgun during a livestream video
The No. 2 pick overall in the 2019 draft, 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year and 2022 Most Improved Player has been suspended for a combined 33 games since he first was caught flashing a gun on a social media livestream on March 4.
Morant first told reporters after the Los Angeles Lakers ousted Memphis from the playoffs in April that he had to make better decisions, knowing off-the-court issues affected the Grizzlies’ season.
Only two weeks later, Morant was singing with friends when caught holding up a handgun during a livestream video. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver weighed the situation and announced the second suspension along with other steps for Morant to take.
Under the terms of his suspension, Morant was able to practice and travel with the Grizzlies and take part in morning shootarounds. But he was not permitted to be in an arena with his team during games.