He scored 34 points, had eight assists and six rebounds; 27 of those points came in the second half, showing that his suspension has definitely affected his conditioning, appearing winded and using an inhaler.
He was even spotted using a massage gun on his legs to fend off some cramping later in the game.
“Obviously, I’ve been working hard, but it’s nothing like NBA basketball, so that’s pretty much just doing the inhaler to try to get more oxygen in the body to be able to go out there and deliver,” Morant told ESPN. “When I got back in at that eight-minute mark, they pretty much told me, ‘You’re not coming out.’ I just had to lock in and just push through. [That is] pretty much my life — just continuing to push no matter what.”
Ja Morant. Game. pic.twitter.com/NQXxi2XGFR
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 20, 2023
Then, with the game tied up, with just 9.6 seconds left, Morant pulled a spin move on Pelicans’ Herbert Jones after driving into the paint and pulled up for the shot, which dropped through the net as time expired. Winning the game 115-113, it also sealed the deal for Morant’s first game-winning buzzer-beater of his career.
After the game, Morant spoke to TNT about how much it means to finally be back on the court after the gun-flashing incidents that left him sidelined.
“I’ve been putting work in, man. I ain’t played a game in eight months… Basketball is my life, what I love, therapeutic for me, and I’m just excited to be back,” he said.
“I KEPT RECEIPTS TOO!”
Grizzlies star Ja Morant talking that talk after his walkoff game winner vs. the Pelicans
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 20, 2023
Then, while running off the court and down the tunnel, he addressed the haters by yelling, “I kept receipts too!”
Despite the impressive performance, social media is still roasting Morant upon his return. See the hilarious reactions below.
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