Grizzlies star Ja Morant had such an incredible start to the 2023-22 season that he was raised on MVP talk, but a sprained knee forced him to miss the final 12 games before returning Monday night. .

During his absence, Memphis somehow never fell, going 10-2 without their starting point guard, while guards such as Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton and Tyus Jones stepped up.

So I would assume that once Morant was back in action, the Grizzlies would continue their recent tear of success, right?

That wasn’t the case in Monday’s loss to the Thunder, a team the Grizzlies without Morant defeated by an NBA-record 73-point margin just a few weeks ago.

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In fairness to Morant, the Thunder were missing two of their best players in that contest, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and rookie standout Josh Giddey were sidelined. And it was that duo that made the difference in Memphis’ disappointing loss, as Giddey (who had 19 points and 11 assists) found Gilgeous-Alexander (who had 23 points) in the bucket to seal the game.

But that didn’t stop a Grizzlies fan from making an unfounded comment about Morant, which upset the young star, admitting he was “hurt” by what he had heard.

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“We beat this team by 73, and then we lose the day I come back against this team. It’s frustrating. I was already in my head going back out and relying on my knee after losing 12 games. Basketball is my escape, I feel better when I play. So it’s really frustrating, “Morant said after the loss.

“Even during the game, I was running around the court and I heard some of my fans tell me I had to sit back down. So I don’t understand what they wanted to get out of that. I feel like this only makes it worse.

“I’m frustrated,” he continued. “Normally, everyone has seen it, when someone says something negative about me, it gives me energy. But, tonight, the comments from the fans really hurt. I’m going to do what I normally do and I recover and. ” I am very excited for this next game. “

After his press conference, Morant took to Twitter to announce that he was taking a break from social media after the incident, but the tweet has been deleted. Instead, he replaced it with a simple message: “Appreciate the real ones.”

Morant is enjoying the best season of his young career, averaging a career-high 23.7 points with 6.9 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.

He’ll have a chance to prove the skeptics wrong Thursday, December 23, when the Grizzlies take on the Warriors at 10 p.m. ET.