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Ja Morant hits game-winning buzzer-beater on return from 25-game suspension


By Matias Grez, CNN

(CNN) — Ja Morant hit a game-winning buzzer-beater on his return from suspension to give the Memphis Grizzlies a huge 115-113 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Grizzlies have been without Morant all season after the franchise’s star point guard was punished by the NBA for “conduct detrimental to the league” for appearing to flash a gun on Instagram Live twice within the space of two months, resulting in an eight-game suspension for the first incident and 25 games without pay for the second.

Unsurprisingly, the Grizzlies have struggled in Morant’s absence and are still just 7-19, sitting 13th in the Western Conference after Tuesday’s victory.

“I’m a dog,” Morant told TNT Sports as he was mobbed by his teammates. “I’ve been putting work in, I haven’t played a game in eight months, had a lot of time learning about myself, a lot of hard days where I went through it, but basketball is my life and what I love.

“It’s therapeutic for me and I’m just excited to be back.”

Ahead of the game, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James posted on X, formerly Twitter, ”Go be GREAT again!!

One of the most electrifying players in the league, Morant hit his game-winner after spinning into the lane, hanging in the air, angling the ball between two opponents and off the backboard.

The 24-year-old finished with a joint game-high 34 points to go with six rebounds, eight assists and two steals.

After the game, Morant said his teammates have been supporting him like “brothers” throughout his suspension.

“We put in the work together,” he said. “Hard practices, light practices, treatment, flights.

“We spend a lot of time together through this process and they helped me out a lot, saying positive things to me, they told me to stay true, keep working and it showed right there them believing in me and it shows how excited everybody is for me to be back.”

The Grizzlies will likely be feeling confident that Morant’s return will be the catalyst for an improved run, with the team now five-and-a-half games back from an automatic playoff spot.

Morant was backed up on the night by 24 points and six rebounds from Jaren Jackson Jr. and 21 points and four assists from Desmond Bane.

The Pelicans were led by 34 points, six assists and four rebounds from Brandon Ingram, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Grizzlies from snapping the team’s four-game winning streak.

The Grizzlies next take the court on Thursday against the Indiana Pacers in Memphis, while the Pelicans travel to Ohio to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers the same night.

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