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Morant: 'Off-the-court issues' disrupted Grizzlies

Justin Ford / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant cited his March suspension and actions behind the ban as factors leading to his team's first-round exit Friday at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I've just got to be better with my decision-making. That's pretty much it," he said after the Grizzlies' 125-85 blowout loss in Game 6, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "Off-the-court issues affected us as an organization pretty much. Just more discipline."

The NBA suspended Morant eight games for brandishing a gun at a Denver-area nightclub while livestreaming on his Instagram. He ultimately missed a ninth contest due to reconditioning. The 23-year-old apologized and took responsibility for his actions in an interview with ESPN amid his suspension.

Despite Morant's ban, the Grizzlies secured the second seed in the Western Conference with a 51-31 record. However, the Lakers, who qualified for the first round through the play-in tournament, easily outmatched Taylor Jenkins' young squad throughout the series.

Morant likely isn't alone in facing criticism for off-court antics. After Memphis' Game 2 victory, Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks appeared to invigorate LeBron James and the rest of the Lakers when he said the 38-year-old was "old" and claimed he doesn't respect any opposing player until they "come and give me 40." In the four games that followed, James averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 5.8 assists as Los Angeles went 3-1 and capped off its dominance with a 40-point drubbing in Game 6.

When asked what he'll take away from the 2022-23 campaign, Morant acknowledged that he needs to set an example for the rest of his squad.

"I feel like mine is more off the court and on the court - just being disciplined both sides," Morant said. "Off the court, making better decisions. On the court, being locked in even more. Being a leader of this team, it pretty much starts with me. So however I attack any situation, I know my guys will follow. I've just got to be better in that area."

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