Grizzlies' Morant returns from 12-game absence in loss to Thunder

Joe Murphy / National Basketball Association / Getty

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant returned to the lineup for Monday's 103-99 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder following a 12-game absence.

Morant scored 16 points for the hosts and added six rebounds and eight assists in 28 minutes. Desmond Bane led the Grizzlies with 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander produced 23 points and rookie guard Josh Giddey chipped in 19 points and 11 dimes for the Thunder.

Memphis went just 39-of-101 from the field (38.6%) and slumped to an eighth home defeat of the season. The Grizzlies beat the Thunder by an NBA record 73-point margin when the two teams last met on Dec. 2, also in Memphis.

Despite the result, Morant looked lively in his first game back. The 2019 second overall selection hadn't played since exiting early with a left knee injury during a Nov. 26 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft was enjoying a stellar third season prior to the injury, averaging a career-best 25.3 points on 47.8% shooting along with 7.1 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 34 minutes per outing.

Memphis went 10-2 without Morant, a spell that included two five-game winning streaks. With the loss, the 19-13 Grizzlies remain in fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

Memphis named backup point guard Tyus Jones to the starting five in each game Morant missed, but a finger injury kept him out of Monday's contest.

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Grizzlies' Morant returns from 12-game absence in loss to Thunder
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