What Memphis Grizzlies players said about Ja Morant during star guard's absence
Memphis Grizzlies players have been supportive of each other all season whenever one has a rough stretch of play on the floor. Ja Morant's recent issues off the court are a bit different, but the team is extending a similar type of support for their two-time All-Star point guard.
Morant is away from the Grizzlies after he went on Instagram Live Saturday morning and showed what was believed to be a handgun. The Grizzlies lost their first game without Morant since the flood of news 135-129 on Sunday to the Los Angeles Clippers.
After the game, Grizzlies players spoke for the first time about Morant's absence.
"It's a lot of emotion in it," guard Tyus Jones said. "You just want the best for him. That's all I'm going to comment on that situation. Obviously it's a tough personal matter and something we're dealing with in house. It's an emotional time."
Desmond Bane, the Grizzlies' second-leading scorer, is going to be tasked with an even larger role without Morant. In Sunday's game, Bane handled the ball more and scored 30 points on 12-for-22 shooting.
Bane is one of Morant's closest teammates. Morant notably went to Bane's home and attempted to leave him the Most Improved Player award last season after Morant — who won the award — believed Bane was more deserving.
"We're wrapping our arms around him and showing him our love," Bane said. "Whenever he is ready to come back, we'll welcome him with open arms."
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Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said the Grizzlies will likely feed Jaren Jackson Jr. more with Morant out. Against a smaller Clippers team, Jackson got several touches and finished with 24 points on 8-for-18 shooting.
Jackson and Morant have been teammates the past four seasons and recently became the first Grizzlies duo to be named to the All-Star game in the same season. Jackson called Morant "my brother" while also issuing his support.
"I'm happy for whatever he decides to do," Jackson said. "I trust his judgment. He's doing what's best for him. He's going to come back and take over the league again."
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: What Memphis Grizzlies said about Ja Morant during star guard's absence