Basketball pro Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies has made a successful return to the NBA after his suspension.
Morant contributed 17 points to his team's 130-125 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday (local time). The Grizzlies' top player was suspended for eight games by the North American league for a controversial nightclub video and "league-damaging behavior" and was back in action for the first time.
Germany international Maximilian Kleber and the Dallas Mavericks suffered a setback in the race for the playoff spots. In the duel against champions Golden State Warriors, the Texans narrowly lost 125-127 in front of their home crowd and thus failed to draw level with the Warriors in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks are currently ninth in the west, with only the top six teams safely advancing to the final round. The teams ranked seventh through tenth in each conference qualify for a tournament in which the last two playoff spots are awarded.
Mavs boss announces protest
However, a controversial situation late in the third quarter sparked debate. Mavs club boss Mark Cuban announced a protest against the game rating on ESPN after a controversial decision by the referees and complained about one of the “worst mistakes in NBA history”. The last successful protest in the league so far dates from January 2008.
The Mavericks had to do without superstar Kyrie Irving, but Luka Doncic returned after a two-week injury break. The Slovenian scored 30 points and was the outstanding player of the game. Kleber scored five points.
The Los Angeles Lakers with national player Dennis Schröder kept their chances for the playoffs. Even without the still injured superstar LeBron James, the Lakers won 122:111 against the Phoenix Suns. Schroeder scored 13 points. The Lakers are tenth in the West, just behind the Mavericks.
The New York Knicks with the German center Isaiah Hartenstein lost 120:127 in the Miami Heat and thus failed to distance a competitor for the direct playoff entry. The Knicks are fifth in the East, two wins ahead of the Heat. Hartenstein got two points.