Warriors ‘a shell of ourselves’ as rampant Grizzlies keep playoff series alive
- Memphis hand Golden State beatdown as series goes to 3-2
- Milwaukee come back to take 3-2 series lead against Boston
The Memphis Grizzlies fought off elimination with the highest-scoring performance in their postseason history. Their injured All-Star guard Ja Morant then upped the ante by leading cheers of “Grizz in seven!” from the bench.
Jaren Jackson Jr, Desmond Bane and Tyus Jones each scored 21 points and the Grizzlies routed the Golden State Warriors 134-95 on Wednesday night to force a sixth game in their Western Conference semifinal.
“We’ve exceeded expectations ever since I’ve been here,” Bane said. “It almost seems whenever someone thinks we can’t do something, we end up doing it. So I never want to put a limit on this team on what we can do because anything’s possible.”
Dillon Brooks added 12 points for Memphis. Ziaire Williams and Brandon Clarke had 11 apiece and De’Anthony Melton 10. Steven Adams had 13 rebounds, six offensive as Memphis outscored Golden State 24-5 on second-chance points.
The Grizzlies never trailed, turning in their best performance of this series to pull within 3-2 – even with Morant out a second straight game because of a bone bruise in his right knee. They improved to 4-11 when facing elimination.
“We knew what was at stake,” Jackson said. “We didn’t change anything, though. We just calmed down, looked at the film, understand what we had to take away from the last game and just went out there and executed.”
Memphis scored 77 points in the first half, the most in franchise postseason history. The Grizzlies pushed their lead to 55 in the third quarter, threatening the three biggest postseason blowouts in NBA history. Their 52-point lead after three tied for the largest in a playoff game in the past 70 years.
When Memphis fans chanted their unofficial anthem – “Whoop That Trick!” – early in the fourth, Stephen Curry laughed on the court while Draymond Green swung a towel in unison with the crowd. Green said he doesn’t respect people who only bring energy when winning.
“When you spew it out, you’ve got to be willing to take it and not hide from it and not duck from it and not hide from it. Embrace it,” Green said. “So, I appreciated the crowd tonight and the energy they brought to the game. If they want to whoop that trick, we’re going to whoop it together.”
Game 6 is Friday night in San Francisco, where the Warriors have won five straight playoff games and their last seven overall.
Klay Thompson led Golden State with 19 points, Jonathan Kuminga added 17, Curry had 14 and Damion Lee and Moses Moody each had 10.
The Warriors lost for the first time with assistant Mike Brown filling in for coach Steve Kerr, who missed his second straight game since testing positive for Covid before Game 4. Thompson said they expected to close out this series only to play “like a shell of ourselves.”
“It was awful,” Thompson said. “It was embarrassing from the opening tip. We didn’t have great flow. They were more aggressive than us, reflecting their 30 free throws to our 13.”
In Wednesday’s other game, Bobby Portis put back Giannis Antetokounmpo’s missed free throw with 15 seconds left, and Jrue Holiday snuffed Marcus Smart on Boston’s final two possessions as Milwaukee erased a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Celtics 110-107 and take a 3-2 series lead.
“Obviously, in Boston you’re down 14 in the fourth quarter, people would say everything’s against us. But we come together,” said Holiday, who also hit the tying three-pointer with 43 seconds left. “We live and die like that.”
Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 11 rebounds, making 16 of 27 shots – including a long three-pointer to make it 105-102 with 1:40 to play. Holiday finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists and Portis added 14 points and 15 rebounds. The Bucks can advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a victory in Game 6 at home Friday night.