The Rundown: Morant hits game-winner in season debut

Published December 20, 2023, 5:00 PMPolo Bustamante

Ja Morant returned from his suspension and lifted the Grizzlies past the Pelicans.


Grizzlies 115, Pelicans 113

Bucks 132, Spurs 119

Trail Blazers 109, Suns 104

Warriors 132, Celtics 126 (OT)

What went down

Ja Morant is back!

He announced return with a monstrous performance and a massive highlight.

In his first game back after serving a 25-game suspension, Morant led the Grizzlies to a big win over a West rival in the New Orleans Pelicans. He showed no rust from his time off, exploding for 34 points on 50 percent shooting, adding six rebounds, and eight assists. He was clearly the best player on the floor today.

Beyond the numbers, he made sure that his impact was felt by everyone that played or watched the game. He not only led the comeback from 24 points down, but hit the biggest shot of the game at the buzzer.

With less than 10 seconds left in the game, Morant received the ball in the back court and cleared the floor out. He made his move into the paint with less than four seconds left on the clock, spun past his defender, floated in the air and lofted in the game-winner as time expired.

He was immediately mobbed by his teammates as the Grizzlies celebrated only their seventh win of the season. With Morant back, they’re looking to climb out of that hole and somehow be competitive for the rest of the season.

Big-time baller

Morant rightfully deserves this tag for today. But someone else came up big for his team as well.

The Golden State Warriors, currently in a slump, were facing off against the best team in the league. This would have been an automatic win for the Boston Celtics, except the Warriors still had a guy named Steph Curry on their team.

Curry got some help from Chris Paul who orchestrated the comeback from 17 points down. But in the end-game it was Curry that delivered the goods. He nailed back-to-back 3s near the end of regulation to tie the game up. In OT, he drilled two straight ice-cold daggers to put the game away.

Curry finished with 33 points built on six 3-pointers to lead the Warriors to a momentum-building win.

What he said

Even the King was celebrating the return of Morant.

Did you see that?

The Celtics were rolling in the third quarter of their game. Their confidence was at an all-time high and you really couldn’t blame Jaylen Brown for hitting Curry with the “too small” taunt after his bucket to put his team up by 13.

That might have been a bad move by Brown.

After that taunt, Curry exploded for 20 points in the next 17 minutes to lead the Warriors to the comeback win. He also had the final say, pulling out the “night, night” celebration after hitting the dagger in OT.

Extra Pass

It’s always a huge game when two of the best of the respective conferences face off. The Minnesota Timberwolves are far and away the best team in the West right now. They’re going to test their mettle against the third-ranked Philadelphia 76ers in Philly.

This is an interesting match-up because the Timberwolves have the manpower to possibly slow down the reigning MVP, Joel Embiid. They’re armed with Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, two massive bodies they can throw at Embiid. 

Now, it’s never easy slowing down the MVP. Even with Towns and Gobert doing their best, Embiid can still have a great game. The key for the Sixers is to unlock the rest of the team. If the whole team helps carry the load then they can deliver a huge blow to the record of the young Wolves.

You can catch the game live at 8:00 AM on NBA League Pass.