MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Ja Morant pushed the ball in transition and delivered a pretty lob pass over the top of the defense, setting up a dunk that prompted an Indiana Pacers timeout. Morant celebrated by skipping down the court, soaking up the adulation from the sellout crowd at FedExForum for his heavily anticipated, delayed season home debut, and then headed to the Memphis Grizzlies' huddle to deliver a message.

"We're back having fun," Morant hollered to his teammates.

It was a miserable first two months of the season in Memphis, as Morant served a 25-game suspension and the injury-ravaged Grizzlies struggled to a 6-19 record without him. Morant is back, and so is the joy that comes along with winning.

"The tough part was not being able to be out there and enjoy and have fun with my guys, but now that I'm out there, I'm making sure that we're all having fun no matter what," Morant said after a 116-103 win over the Pacers on Thursday night. "So that was pretty much just my message. You could just tell by the energy of the team. We catch a lob, you got the bench going crazy, you got the players screaming, yelling, dapping each other up. That's our type of basketball. That's how we are. That's the team we are, the people we are."

2 Related

This victory served as a celebration of the star's return, two nights after Morant capped a 34-point performance in a comeback road win over the New Orleans Pelicans by making the first game-winning buzzer-beater of his career.

Fans organized a parade outside the arena a couple of hours before the opening tip. The atmosphere inside was as electric as expected. It was only the fourth sellout of the season for the Grizzlies, who were 1-11 in home games during Morant's suspension for brandishing a firearm on an Instagram Live video in May, his second such incident in a span of two months. The courtside seats featured several prominent figures from the local rap scene -- such as Moneybagg Yo, GloRilla, Key Glock and Sett -- which is a telltale sign of a big-game atmosphere in Memphis.

"It was great to feel that," said Grizzlies shooting guard Desmond Bane, who had a team-high 31 points and seven assists. "We've had several home games that weren't like that this season. Obviously, getting Ja back, everybody's super excited."

Memphis power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. joked about how nice it was to see traffic while driving to the arena.

"It was rocking," said Jackson, who had 21 points. "Courtside was rocking. It was looking good."

Morant finished with 20 points and a team-high eight assists. The Grizzlies' core trio of Morant, Bane and Jackson have scored more than 20 points apiece in both games they've played together this season, something they had accomplished only four times in the previous three seasons they played together. Memphis is 6-0 in those games.

The Grizzlies' stars got off to a sizzling start, beginning with Morant's driving layup on the game's opening possession, much to the crowd's delight. The trio combined for 30 of Memphis' 35 points in the first quarter as the Grizzlies jumped out to a double-digit lead that swelled to 23 during the second quarter.

The Pacers sliced the deficit to two by halftime and took the lead early in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies regained control. Morant's driving layup on the opening possession of the fourth quarter pushed the lead to 11 points, and Memphis maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the game against an Indiana team playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Grizzlies, now 8-19, understand that they have much work to do to have any hope of salvaging a season that started so poorly. However, Morant is making it a priority to emphasize enjoying the successful steps of the journey -- so much so that he briefly booted coach Taylor Jenkins from the locker room after the win for a lack of enthusiasm.

"He came in just clapping," Morant said. "Like, you got to come in screaming after a win. We got to celebrate."

For most of the season, there wasn't much to celebrate in Memphis. That has changed with Morant's return this week.

"You got to play the game with a lot of joy," Bane said. "And when you're losing and down, sometimes it's hard to find that spirit and that swag. But regardless, winning, losing, up, down, you got to have that fire and that fight. And I think we got that now."