Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins is "hopeful" All-NBA point guard Ja Morant will make his return on Wednesday after completing an eight-game suspension.

Morant, 23, was suspended after a March 3 road game against the Denver Nuggets for "conduct detrimental to the league".

The NBA was forced to investigate after Morant appeared to brandish a gun on social media while at a nightclub.

Morant was "holding a firearm in an intoxicated state", the NBA said, but it did not prove the gun was owned by the Grizzlies star, or that he took it on the team flight or into any league facility.

When asked prior to Monday's game against the Dallas Mavericks, Jenkins said Morant had "a good first day back" with the team, which included addressing his team-mates and coaches after spending a brief stint in counselling.

Despite missing Morant's 27.1 points, 8.2 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game, the Grizzlies have gone 5-3 during his eight-game absence.

It was a similar story last season when they went 20-5 in the 25 games their star spent on the sidelines.

"What the group's done in his absence has been phenomenal from a defensive standpoint, offensive standpoint, execution standpoint, togetherness standpoint," Jenkins said. 

"That's obviously our expectation with Ja reintegrating with the team. He's been connected with us player-wise, staff-wise, he knows what we're doing.

"He's excited to be a part of the group and get back and help his team [reach] our ultimate goal.

"I think it's going to be a seamless reintegration. We know how important he is to us. We know how important he is, he knows how important his team-mates are to him."

At 43-27, Memphis are tied for the second seed in the Western Conference, and they have 12 games remaining to overtake the Sacramento Kings, or even make a run at the top-seeded Nuggets (48-24).

Walker Kessler produced a game-winning block to deny Grant Williams' after Lauri Markkanen's 27th double-double of the season as the Utah Jazz edged the Boston Celtics 118-117 on Saturday.

The Jazz, fighting for a playoff spot in the tight Western Conference, had re-taken the lead with 35.3 seconds remaining from Talen Horton-Tucker's lay-up before Kessler blocked Williams' game-winning two-point attempt on a drive to the basket on the buzzer.

Utah rallied back from a 19-point deficit but the Celtics went on a 14-3 run to re-claim the lead before the late drama.

All-Star Markkanen was brilliant with 28 points including four three-pointers with 10 rebounds and three assists for Utah, while Horton-Tucker added 19 points. Among Markkanen's triples was one with 1:19 to play in the fourth to cut the margin to one point at 117-116.

Williams had produced a career-high seven three-pointers in his 23-point haul, while Jayson Tatum was kept to 15 points on four-of-12 shooting with six assists in a quiet second half.

Boston guard Jaylen Brown scored a team-high 25 points, making four-of-nine from beyond the arc, with six assists.

The Celtics shot 22 three-pointers at 43.1 per cent, but the Jazz hauled down 56-40 rebounds and scored 17-of-22 from the free-throw line.

Boston, playing their third game in four nights, clinched their playoff spot despite the defeat, by virtue of the Miami Heat's 113-99 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Despite his cold night, Tatum (two) became the fourth Celtics' player to reach multiple 2,000-point seasons, alongside Larry Bird (four), Paul Pierce (four) and John Havlicek (two)

Embiid exceeds Iverson & Wilt franchise record

Joel Embiid became the first Philadelphia 76ers player to record nine straight 30-point games as they downed the Indiana Pacers 141-121.

Embiid scored 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field along with 10-of-13 from the free-throw line, plus seven rebounds, seven assists and two blocks.

The center has averaged 36.1 points per game during his nine-game 30-point run, exceeding Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain's previous joint record of eight.

Tyrese Maxey added 31 points with five triples while Tobias Harris contributed 24 points for the 76ers, who move into second in the Eastern Conference following Boston's loss.

Brunson leads Knicks past slumping Nuggets

Jalen Brunson made an impressive return from a foot injury with 24 points, including 16 in the first quarter, as the New York Knicks got past the Denver Nuggets 116-110.

The Knicks (42-30) rallied from a 13-point third-quarter deficit, with Brunson making two free throws with 43 seconds remaining, before lobbing to Mitchell Robinson to seal the win with 24 seconds left.

Nikola Jokic scored 24 points with 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Western Conference-leading Nuggets, who have lost five of their past six games to fall to a 47-24 record.

The West's second-ranked Memphis Grizzlies closed the gap on the Nuggets with a 133-119 win over the Golden State Warriors, led by Jaren Jackson Jr's 31 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.

Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said a frank halftime discussion among his players was the catalyst for the biggest comeback in the NBA this season.

Trailing by 29 points in the third quarter of Friday's contest against the San Antonio Spurs, the Grizzlies produced a resounding fightback to earn a 126-120 overtime triumph.

Still down by nine in the final minute of regulation play, a 9-0 stretch in a dramatic finale sent the game into additional time.

Jaren Jackson Jr put up 28 points for the Grizzlies, who set a franchise record with their comeback.

Asked what sparked the revival, Jenkins said: "It really started at halftime. 

"We didn't watch any film. I just opened up the floor to the players to talk and said, 'What do you got for me?' 

"Four or five guys spoke up and said it was unacceptable what we were doing in the first half.

"We were too casual, we weren't communicating, we weren't executing our coverages, we weren't playing with physicality, we weren't trusting the pass."

The Grizzlies are now 4-3 without their All-Star guard Ja Morant, who served the seventh of an eight-game ban for "conduct detrimental to the league".

Jackson said the turnaround was reward for the Grizzlies' perseverance.

"We came in at halftime, regrouped, talked about it," Jackson said. 

"Just came out firing (in the second half). You chip away long enough, you're going to make some noise."

The Grizzlies sit third in the Western Conference with a 42-27 record.

Dillon Brooks has been fined $35,000 by the NBA for the "unsportsmanlike act" of pushing a camera person.

The Memphis Grizzlies guard-forward could be seen nudging the camera operator while trying to retrieve a loose ball during the second quarter of the 138-119 defeat to the Miami Heat on Wednesday at Miami-Dade Arena.

A statement from Joe Dumars, the NBA's executive vice president and head of basketball operations on Friday confirmed that Brooks had been "fined $35,000 for the unsportsmanlike act of shoving a camera person on the sideline after pursuing a loose ball".

It is not the first time this year that Brooks has been in disciplinary trouble, having been judged to have committed a Flagrant Foul 2 and ejected from the Grizzlies' game with the Cleveland Cavaliers last month after a scuffle with Donovan Mitchell in which he hit his opponent in the groin.

Brooks was suspended for one game without pay for the incident.

He got into a war of words with the Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green before and after a game earlier this month, also bumping chests with Green on court during the Grizzlies' win against the defending champions.

Brooks is averaging 14.2 points per game this season.

Ja Morant says he made a "bad mistake" but now realises what he has to lose following a series of poor off-court decisions leading to his eight-game NBA suspension.

The NBA announced the suspension without pay for Morant on Wednesday for carrying a gun in a Denver nightclub in an incident that the Memphis Grizzlies guard posted in an Instagram Live video earlier this month.

Morant, who has been away from the Grizzlies since the March 4 incident and underwent counselling during his absence, will receive credit for the five games he has already missed and will be eligible to return for Memphis' March 20 home game against the Dallas Mavericks.

The latest incident is the latest in a pattern of behaviour from Morant, who met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday after the league's damning condemnation of his "irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous" conduct.

"I realise what I have to lose, and for us as a group, what we have to lose," Morant during an interview with ESPN's Jalen Rose. "It's pretty much just that being more responsible, more smarter and staying away from all the bad decisions.

"I feel like in the past we didn't know what was at stake. And now finally me having that time to realise everything, have that time alone, I realise that now."

Morant showed remorse for his actions at the nightclub, clarifying that he did not own the gun in the video, while adding that the behaviour did not represent him truly.

"It's not who I am," Morant said." I don't condone it or any type of violence, but I take full responsibility for my actions. I made a bad mistake.

"I can see the image that I painted over myself with my recent mistakes. But in the future, I'm going to show everybody who Ja really is, what I'm about and change this narrative that everybody got."

Morant has spent time away from the Grizzlies since the incident reflecting on his behaviour, including undertaking a counselling program in Florida.

"I feel mentally good that I haven't been in many years," Morant said. "I'm in a space where I'm very comfortable.

"I was constantly talking to therapists. I've been doing Reiki treatment. I've been doing anxiety breathing, different stuff to help me manage that and release all that stuff from my body.

"I made a terrible mistake being inside a club and went Live. I put myself in a bad position."

The Grizzlies have gone 3-3 in Morant's absence, sitting third in the Western Conference with a 41-27 record.

Memphis Grizzlies All-Star Ja Morant has been suspended a total of eight games without pay for carrying a gun into a Denver nightclub earlier this month, the NBA announced on Wednesday. 

Morant, who has been away from the Grizzlies since the March 4 incident and underwent counselling during his absence, will receive credit for the five games he has already missed and will be eligible to return for Memphis' March 20 home game against the Dallas Mavericks.

The decision was announced after Morant met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver in New York on Wednesday. 

Although Morant was not charged by Colorado authorities with any crime and the NBA said its investigation could not determine whether the gun belonged to him or was brought by him into the club, Silver concluded that the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year's conduct was detrimental to the league when announcing the extended penalty. 

"Ja's conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous," Silver said in a statement.

"It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him. He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behaviour.

"Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibility to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court."

Morant was seen holding the gun as he conducted an Instagram Live session from the nightclub hours after the Grizzlies' 113-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets on March 3.

The Grizzlies announced the next day that the two-time All-Star would be away from the team indefinitely as the NBA undertook an investigation of the incident.

The 2019 number two overall pick issued a written apology for his actions shortly afterwards and entered a counselling programme in Florida last week for what he said was to "take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being".

Morant, who ranks fifth in the NBA in assists per game and ninth in scoring, was previously involved in another off-court incident following a game against Indiana on January 29 that resulted in several of the star guard's acquaintances being banned by the NBA from attending Grizzlies home games.

In that event, members of Morant's group reportedly confronted representatives of the Pacers' travelling party after the game, and a red laser was pointed from an SUV believed to be carrying Morant towards Indiana players and coaches as they made their way to the team bus. 

Morant is averaging 27.1 points and 8.2 assists in 53 games this season for a Memphis team who hold the second-best record in the Western Conference.

Memphis lost their first two games during Morant's current hiatus but have since won three straight, following up a 131-110 victory over defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors on March 9 with a home-and-home sweep of Dallas. 

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant has entered counselling in Florida, with the timeline for his return to action still uncertain.

Morant remains away from the Grizzlies following an incident in early March where he posted an Instagram Live video that appeared to show him flashing a handgun inside a Colorado nightclub.

Glendale police confirmed it had decided not to lay charges on Morant for the incident, citing a lack of evidence, while the NBA's investigation is ongoing.

According to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon, Morant sought out counselling as part of his efforts – as Morant had previously put in a statement: "[T]o get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being."

The Grizzlies made it three wins in a row despite Morant's absence on Monday as they beat the Dallas Mavericks 104-88 at American Airlines Center.

After the game, Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins said: "Outside of what I have said in the past, being respectful to the nature of the situation, I think I said on the outside that he is taking time and responsibility to get better himself so that he can be better for our team. I am not going to really comment further until there are other updates necessary."

Jenkins also confirmed he has been in regular communication with the player, saying: "Yes, he and I have been communicating every couple of days trying to get him in the appropriate space, but also just keeping him up to speed on what the team is doing, and how he is doing as well."

On a return date, he added: "Not ready to comment. We need to get through the next couple of days he is out, at least for the Miami [Heat] game [on Wednesday], and then we will know more beyond that."

Draymond Green and Dillon Brooks continued their feud following a well-timed matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.

The days before the game had been dominated by the two players trading barbs, most notably on Green's podcast as he responded to criticism from Brooks.

Green's rant concluded: "Next time you speak up on me, I hope you're in a better situation than you're in now, where the guys you play with actually enjoy playing with you, because they actually think you're contributing to winning.

"Because it ain't happening right now, champ. Ah – you're not a champ. You're a clown. It ain't happening for you."

Brooks was able to respond on the court on Thursday as he led a Grizzlies team still missing Ja Morant to a 131-110 victory over the Warriors.

But Green again had a riposte, saying: "Anybody can win in March. Anybody can win in March. What does that mean? I have a hard time getting out of my bed in March. What's a game in March mean?"

There was a flash point late in the second quarter when the pair bumped chests, yet Green said he would not be "baited" by Brooks.

In the eyes of the Warriors man, this is still not a game that means more than any other.

"One team has to win [a championship] and then another team has to win," Green said. "That's what creates a rivalry.

"Not because one team gets up for you and talks like they can beat you and then not. That doesn't create a rivalry.

"Rivalries are created by you win, I win. Clearly, we've won four times, and I think their organisation has zero championships, so I can't consider that a rivalry."

Still, Brooks disagreed, adding: "They don't ever forget. When they won the championship, they were talking about us.

"They don't ever forget who the Memphis Grizzlies are. They get up and they can't wait to play us."

Domantas Sabonis recorded a second straight triple-double as the Sacramento Kings held off the New York Knicks 122-117 to move another step closer to ending their 16-year playoffs wait.

The Knicks erased a 21-point deficit to tie the game at 96-96 in the fourth quarter but the Kings held their nerve, claiming the win at Golden 1 Center on Thursday to restore second seed in the Western Conference.

Sabonis scored a team-high 24 points with 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while De'Aaron Fox came alive in the fourth quarter to finish with 23 points and seven assists.

Fox scored 15 of his 23 points in the fourth. The Kings guard has scored 10 or more points in the fourth quarter 23 times this season, which is tied for the most in the NBA with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Knicks were not helped by losing Jalen Brunson in the third quarter to injury, with a repeat of the foot injury that had kept him out of the previous two games.

Brunson scored 19 points with three-of-five three-point shooting from 19 minutes with the Knicks missing him down the stretch, giving up three turnovers in the final two-and-a-half minutes.

Julius Randle was guilty of one of those turnovers, mishandling the ball at 119-115 with 13.1 seconds to go. Randle finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while R.J. Barrett had 25 points.

The defeat means the Knicks have lost two in a row after going on a nine-game winning streak, leaving them fifth in the East at 39-29.

Ja-less Grizzlies down Warriors

The Golden State Warriors' road woes worsened as the Memphis Grizzlies downed the reigning champions 131-110 in the continued absence of Ja Morant.

Grizzlies point guard Tyus Jones scored a team-high 22 points with 11 assists, while Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr both added 21 points.

Stephen Curry finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field, but the Warriors shot 15-of-45 from beyond the arc as a team.

Memphis put up a massive 48 points in the first quarter, but held only a six-point three-quarter time lead before racing away with a comprehensive victory, improving to 39-26.

Lopez sets blocks record in Bucks win

Brook Lopez recorded an NBA season-high nine blocks as the league-best Milwaukee Bucks got past the short-handed Brooklyn Nets 118-113.

Lopez scored 24 points with 10 rebounds and a career-high nine blocks for the Bucks, who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a sore right hand. Bobby Portis scored a game-high 28 points with 13 rebounds.

The Nets were without a host of players due to injuries, including Nic Claxton, Royce O'Neale, Spencer Dinwiddie and Ben Simmons, with Patty Mills top scoring off the bench with 23 points, making five-of-nine triples.

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins says there is still no timeline on Ja Morant's return to the side as he takes time to "get better personally".

Morant remains away from the Grizzlies following last week's incident where he posted an Instagram Live video that appeared to show him flashing a handgun inside a Colorado nightclub.

Glendale police confirmed on Wednesday they had decided not to lay charges on Morant for the incident, citing a lack of evidence, while the NBA's investigation is ongoing.

The Grizzlies confirmed on Wednesday that Morant, who had already missed two initial games following the incident, will be away from at least four more games.

Morant had put out a statement last week, apologising for the incident and adding he would take time away from the Grizzlies "to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being".

Prior to Thursday's game against the Golden State Warriors, Jenkins was asked about the steps Morant would need to take to return to the side.

"I can't share details," Jenkins told reporters. "There's definitely steps that are going to have to be met, both personally and professionally, as he deals with some stuff personally to get better.

"Obviously the expectations on the team, he's got some things that he's going to have to clear to know what the expectations are when he does return."

Morant's absence comes at a difficult time for the Grizzlies, who have lost their past three games, slipping to third in the Western Conference with a 38-26 record. They are also without key center Steven Adams with a knee injury.

The Grizzlies point guard will miss games against Western Conference contenders Golden State (Thursday) and the Dallas Mavericks (Saturday and Monday) followed by the Miami Heat (Wednesday).

"He's out at least the next four games," Jenkins said. "I know everyone wants to know what's this going to be, it's the hot topic for sure but he's taking time.

"His responsibility to get better personally is a big factor in all of this. Also it's his responsibility to the team, it's something we're addressing with him, he's fully on board with and he's been communicative with our group."

Jenkins added that the franchise had made attempts in the past to help Morant avoid situations like this.

"We have had conversations in the past trying to guide him and help him continue to evolve as a person and as a player," Jenkins said. "Obviously this came to a head the other day. It put this process into action.

"The hope was that this would have never happened, and everything was as good as it should be, but there have been dialogues about what he's got to do better and this just came to a head then."

Police confirmed Ja Morant will not be charged after appearing to flash a gun at a Denver nightclub while the Memphis Grizzlies revealed he will remain away for at least their next four games.

Morant had been under investigation by the Glendale Police Department (GPD) on whether he broke the law in last week's incident where he posted an Instagram Live video that seemed to show him brandishing a gun inside a nightclub.

In a statement the GPD said it "was not able to determine that probable cause existed for the filing of any charges".

The GPD said it did not receive any calls for assistance at the nightclub that evening, nor were disturbances reported.

"Although the video was concerning enough to prompt an investigation, there was not enough available evidence to charge anyone with a crime," the statement said.

It is not against the law to carry a gun in Colorado, but there are exceptions to the rule, one of which being you must not be in possession of one while under the influence of alcohol. Morant was not seen to be drinking during the footage.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies confirmed the extension of Morant's time away from the team, having initially stated he would miss at least two games. Morant said in a statement he would use the time to "get help".

The 2022 NBA Most Improved Player missed those initial games on Sunday and Tuesday, in losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers respectively.

The 23-year-old All-Star will miss upcoming games against the Golden State Warriors, the Dallas Mavericks (home and away) and the Miami Heat.

The Grizzlies are third in the Western Conference with a 38-26 record, with Morant averaging 27.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game this season.

Anthony Davis says he will be fine after shaking off a bloodied nose to record 30 points with a season-high 22 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Memphis Grizzlies 112-103 on Tuesday.

In the absence of the injured LeBron James, Davis was crucial for the Lakers who moved up to ninth – among the Play-In Tournament spots - in the Western Conference with the win, improving their record to 32-34.

Davis was floored and left clutching his bloodied nose with 6:43 remaining in the second quarter after copping an errant hand from David Roddy when securing a rebound.

The All-Star power forward was patched up and returned with a dominant performance, shooting 11-of-17 from the field with seven-of-nine from the free-throw line, with 22 rebounds including four offensive boards.

"It's still bleeding but we've got to win basketball games," Davis told ESPN during his on-court post-game interview.

"I do all I can to come out and compete every night and help this team get victories. The nose will be alright. We've got two days to recuperate and make sure it's still in place. I'll be alright."

Davis hailed the Lakers' defense for the win, coming two days after knocking off another Western Conference rival, the Golden State Warriors, 113-105 on Sunday.

The race for playoffs spots in the Western Conference is tight, with the Lakers only a few games behind the fifth-placed Dallas Mavericks and Warriors (both 34-32).

"It's a must-win," Davis said. "Every game we play from now is a must-win for us. Nothing changed tonight.

"Our ball club did a great job competing on both ends of the floor, little carryover from the game before against Golden State.

"We feel we owe this team one, we let one slip away in Memphis. Ja [Morant] was a big part of that. We wanted to come out and compete. All our guys stepped up tonight."

Police are investigating whether Ja Morant broke the law when he appeared to be pictured holding a gun in a Colorado nightclub last weekend.

Morant was suspended by the Memphis Grizzlies after he posted an Instagram Live video which seemed to show him brandishing a gun.

The Glendale Police Department confirmed to the Associated Press that the incident is being investigated.

It is not against the law to carry a gun in Colorado, but there are exceptions to the rule, one of which being you must not be in possession of one while under the influence of alcohol.

Morant, the 2022 NBA Most Improved Player, was not seen to be drinking during the footage.

In a statement released to ESPN shortly after his suspension was confirmed, Morant apologised for his actions, saying he took "full responsibility".

"I'm sorry to my family, team-mates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organisation for letting you down," Morant added.

"I'm going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being."

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins addressed Ja Morant's suspension prior to Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, highlighting his star point guard's "difficult decisions and poor choices".

Morant, the reigning Most Improved Player and All-NBA Second Team selection, was suspended by the team on Saturday after appearing to show a gun on camera while in a nightclub. It is the latest in a string of questionable incidents from Morant.

In May last year, he tweeted "it's free to see how hollows feel" as a threat to an online troll, and just over a month ago members of his entourage were banned from the Grizzlies' home arena after Indiana Pacers staff reported to the league that they believed someone in Morant's car pointed a laser attached to a gun at them.

Days after the laser situation, he was also named in a police report after a 17-year-old kid claimed Morant punched him multiple times and then retrieved a gun from his house as a threat after a pick-up basketball game escalated to violence.

When asked about Morant's nightclub video, Jenkins was clear that the team was disappointed with his actions.

"Very tough moment, for sure," he said. "He understands he's made some difficult decisions and poor choices in the past that he's got to account for.

"He's definitely embracing the mistakes that he's made, but only time will tell. We're going to support him and we're going to hold him accountable to make those changes."

When asked for a specific date that Morant would rejoin the team, Jenkins said there is no "definitive timeline", calling it "an ongoing healing process".

"We love him, we want what's best for him, we support him," he said. "It's going to be a difficult process, but we've got a great group to get through this.

"This is a tough time for a young kid that's got to grow and get better. He's got huge responsibilities – not just for the team, for the city – but I know how he's built with that care factor and what steps he's now taking. 

"It's a step in the direction of really being the best version of himself. [He is] a generally amazing person, great family person, a father, brother, son, member of our community.

"My hope is that he just gets better. He knows he's got a lot of love and support."

Ja Morant apologised after an incident at a nightclub on Saturday led to the Memphis Grizzlies slapping him with a two-game suspension.

The point guard is under investigation by the NBA after appearing to show a gun during an Instagram Live video.

Morant will miss at least two games, the Grizzlies announced, with the 23-year-old to be absent for Sunday's meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers and the showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers two days later.

In a statement released to ESPN shortly after his suspension was confirmed, Morant apologised for his actions.

"I take full responsibility for my actions last night," he said.

"I'm sorry to my family, team-mates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organisation for letting you down.

"I'm going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.