Ja Morant hits game-winner at buzzer in return from 25-game suspension


In his first game of the season, Ja Morant looked like he had not missed a step. In fact, it looked like he gained a couple.

The Memphis Grizzlies star guard had been suspended for the first 25 games of this season after he, for a second time, filmed himself appearing to brandish a gun – the first instance last season garnered an eight-game suspension.

The 24-year-old has had a tumultuous last 18 months, but he reminded everyone he still is a star on the court.

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Ja Morant, #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies, reacts with his team after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on Dec. 19, 2023 in New Orleans. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Morant knocked down the game-winning buzzer-beater to give his Grizzlies a 115-113 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Morant hit a spin move in the paint and jumped off two feet for a floater that hit the back of the rim and dropped in just as the clock hit zeroes. 

The Grizzlies trailed by as many as 24 points, as the Pelicans went on a 23-0 run in the second quarter. However, Memphis outscored the Pels, 72-53, in the second half for the comeback victory.

Morant scored 27 of his 34 points in the second half – 13 in the third, and 14 in the fourth. He scored Memphis’ final six points, and eight of their last 10. He also dished out eight assists and grabbed six rebounds in the victory.

The Grizzlies have desperately missed Morant after being the No. 2 seed in the West last season – they entered Tuesday night at 6-19. Now, Memphis needs Morant to stay out of trouble, which has been a rather difficult task.

Ja Morant shooting

Ja Morant, #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies, shoots the ball over Zion Williamson, #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans, at Smoothie King Center on Dec. 19, 2023 in New Orleans. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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Aside from the gun videos, Morant is in a legal battle stemming from a fight he got into at his house with a then-17-year-old. Four days earlier, Morant had allegedly “threatened” the head of security at a Memphis mall, and a member of Morant’s group shoved him in the head. 

In another incident, the Indiana Pacers claimed a red laser was pointed at players from an SUV that was carrying Morant. 

The Pacers believed a gun was being pointed at them and reported the incident to NBA officials, although the NBA investigated the incident and found that no “individual threatened others with a weapon.”

Ja Morant closeup

Ja Morant, #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies, looks on while playing the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on Dec. 19, 2023 in New Orleans. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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The second pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, though, has lived up to his billing on the court. In his last two seasons, he’s averaged 26.8 points per game.



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