Ja Morant fires Memphis to a sixth straight win in his return to the starting lineup
Ja Morant fires Memphis to a sixth straight win in his return to the starting lineup… after controversial NBA star served eight-game ban for waving a gun at a Denver strip club
Ja Morant scored 27 points in his return to the Memphis starting lineup and the Grizzlies held off the Atlanta Hawks 123-119 on Sunday night to extend the NBA‘s longest active winning streak.
Desmond Bane added 25 points for Memphis, twice delivering fourth-quarter baskets after Atlanta pulled within one.
Memphis (47-27) is second in the Western Conference despite a 15-22 road record. Back-to-back wins away from Memphis provide hope the Grizzlies are gaining crucial late-season momentum in road games.
The six-game winning streak began with a 126-120 overtime victory at San Antonio on March 17. A win at Atlanta (37-38) was ‘huge,’ according to Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr.
Another stellar performance from talented PG Ja Morant led the Grizzlies to a sixth straight win
Morant recorded 27 points to go along with six assists as Memphis defeated the Atlanta Hawks
After the strong performance Morant gifted Grammy award winning artist ‘Lil Baby’ his jersey
‘We haven´t really been getting it going on the road,’ Jackson said.
Morant received a big cheer from the Atlanta sellout crowd during pregame introductions.
A large contingent of the well-known Atlanta rap community was in attendance for the game and Morant was seen gifting Grammy award winning artist ‘Lil Baby’ his jersey.
While Morant was signing the jersey Lil Baby was seen singing ‘it’s a parade up in my city yea,’ the NBA YoungBoy lyrics that have become a rallying cry for the Grizzlies due to Morant’s affinity for singing them.
He came off the bench in his first two games after serving an eight-game NBA suspension for posting a video in which he was shown waving a gun at a Denver-area strip club while on Instagram live.
Following the incident Morant took time away from the team to enter a counseling center in Florida in order to learn ways to better manage his stress.
The NBA still suspended Morant eight games for ‘conduct deferential to the league,’ despite both a police and NBA investigation finding that he broke no league rules or Colorado state laws.
Morant’s minutes were still watched closely by coach Taylor Jenkins, who had the two-time All-Star on the bench early in the fourth quarter when the Hawks made a charge.
Saddiq Bey’s 3-point play for Atlanta cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 98-87 before Bane responded by sinking a jumper. AJ Griffin’s jumper again pulled the Hawks within one before Bane answered with another basket.
Morant was controversially suspended for ‘conduct detrimental to the league’ for the incident
‘We got caught in a spot trying to figure out Ja’s minutes,’ Jenkins explained.
Jenkins said before the game he hoped to keep Morant’s minutes in the ‘upper 20s.’ Morant played 29 minutes.
Minutes later, Bane’s 3-pointer gave Memphis a 110-103 advantage. The Hawks made one final push, cutting the Grizzlies’ lead to 122-119 on De’Andre Hunter’s 3-pointer.
After a free throw by Tyus Jones extended the lead to four points, Atlanta called a timeout with 11.6 seconds remaining.
Trae Young, who led Atlanta with 28 points, missed a short jumper before Bogdan Bogdanovic’s 3 from the corner also was no good.