Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every loss equates to anger and frustration. But, on the side of returning Ja Morant, who was fresh from a 12-game layoff, the feelings have literally been doubled. 

As he joined the media following a 102-99 Monday night defeat against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Morant echoed his frustration on the painful outcome – an unwanted welcome back reception after not playing since Nov. 27.

“It’s frustrating for me, watching this team while I was out and the type of basketball they were playing,” Morant said. “We beat this team by 73, and then we lose the day I come back against this team.”

The Memphis-less Morant slaughtered Oklahoma City earlier this month via jaw-dropping 73-point demolition, the largest margin ever in NBA’s history. As the Thunder turned the tables around this time and gained vengeance behind first-year man Josh Giddey’s heroics, the combo guard wasn’t entirely pleased with the different result that floated upon his return.

Morant, who dropped 16 markers and 8 assists on the losing effort, further detailed the experience of discouragement before the match wherein he heard unnecessary comments coming from the fans – convincing him to just sit down amid proper conditions to suit up a Grizz uniform again.  

“It’s frustrating. I was already in my head coming back out and trusting my knee after missing 12 games,” Morant told reporters. “Basketball is my escape, I feel at my best when I play. So, it’s really frustrating.”

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

In spite of the mixed emotions, Morant was thankful for the support and appreciation of his teammates after he was sidelined due to a knee injury. 

“I’m excited to be back and I’m thankful for my teammates because they have tried to keep my spirits up and tell me not to worry about what people say. But, it’s hard not to see that stuff.”

“I’m just frustrated. Normally – y’all have seen it – when anybody says something negative about me, it fuels me. But, tonight, the remarks from the fans actually hurt. I’m going to do what I normally do and bounce back and I’m very excited for this next game.”

Memphis went for a 10-2 record and a huge leap within the top five of the West standings in spite of Morant’s long absence — a total team effort and grasp of composure without the 2020 Rookie of The Year leader. 

The talented Grizzlies will try to go back in the win column by trying to outlast the Warriors in San Francisco on Thursday.