Grizzlies' Ja Morant starts in return from 25-game suspension

After serving his 25-game ban, Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant made his season debut against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night. 

"He's fired up," said Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins before the game. "He's been putting in a lot of work since the beginning of the season, and he's been around the team as much as he can."  

That's what he and I have discussed. It's a lot of effort, so go out there, have fun, create connection with your teammates, and just enjoy being back on the floor." 

Morant returned to the bench immediately following his ban last season, but under quite different circumstances.  

The Grizzlies went 6-3 in his absences, including one for conditioning concerns following the end of his ban, with fill-in starting point guard Tyus Jones doing admirably. 

Jones was dealt to the Washington Wizards over the offseason as part of a three-team transaction in which the Grizzlies obtained guard Marcus Smart, who has been out with a sprained left foot since Nov. 14. 

Derrick Rose, another veteran point guard acquired by Memphis in the offseason, is also out due to a hamstring problem on Tuesday night.  

In Morant's absence, Jacob Gilyard, who is on a two-way contract, has started eight games, including Monday night's blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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