Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant finally returned after an eight-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league, and from the sounds of things, he was just grateful to get it out of the way.
Morant scored 17 points, coming off the bench for the first time in his career and sporting a mask to protect a nasal fracture, as the Grizzlies downed the Rockets.
“It meant a lot. I’m thankful and grateful for everybody that’s been supporting me during this time,” Morant said after the game, via Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports. “It definitely helped me a lot. It definitely made me feel a little better with everything going on. It felt good to be back. I’m super excited. Glad we were able to get the win.”
Interestingly, coming off the bench for his first game back was actually Morant’s idea, coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters.
“This was something he brought to the table as well as had been on my mind,” Jenkins said. “So we collectively thought this was the best strategy, at least for the first one or two games. And then we’ll kind of reevaluate after that. …
“Obviously, we don’t have a long runway until the end of the regular season, but we want to be smart with that layoff that we’re not doing anything to jeopardize his health.”