MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ja Morant scored 47 points to tie his playoff high and lift the Memphis Grizzlies to a tie in the Western Conference semifinals with a 106-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
Morant scored the final 15 points for Memphis, starting with 4:16 left. He drove and circled a defender before hitting a 7-foot jumper with 1:42 left to put Memphis ahead to stay at 100-99. He added four free throws and a 9-footer finishing with 18 in the fourth quarter.
The NBA’s most improved player, who also had 47 in Game 2 against Utah last year, became the third player in league history to have multiple 45-point playoff games before to be 23 years old. The two others ? LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
Ziaire Williams hit four 3s and finished with 14 points off the bench. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 12 points before committing a third foul in eight games this postseason. Brandon Clarke added 10 points.
Now, the youngest team to reach the semifinals in 25 years will travel to San Francisco for Game 3 on Saturday night, knowing the series will return to Memphis for Game 5.
Stephen Curry finished with 27 points on 3-of-11 shooting from outside the arc. Jordan Poole added 20 points off the bench but was 1 of 6 of 3. Andrew Wiggins had 16, going 1 of 7 of 3. Klay Thompson finished with 12 points and was 2 of 12 of 3. The Warriors did not shot that 7 of 38 from 3. -point range.
The Warriors, in the semifinals for the seventh time in 10 years, had their chances. Trailing 104-101, Curry passed to Green, who threw it to Thompson, who traveled with 17 seconds left. Morant hit two free throws for the final margin.
The Grizzlies are coming off the franchise’s first series win in seven years. But a team that was the second-youngest team in the NBA during the regular season is trying to get Memphis past the second round, something that franchise did only once in 2013.
It didn’t get any easier when Dillon Brooks, a 15-point playoff average and whose job it was to defend Curry, was ejected with 9:08 left in the first quarter after a serious foul on the goalie. Warriors Gary Payton II. Payton went to the locker room for X-rays of his left elbow. He didn’t come back.
Green, ejected from Game 1 for his own Flagrant 2, went down minutes after Brooks was ejected. He went to the locker room, showing the middle number of each hand to the fans. He returned for the second quarter after receiving stitches for a cut in his right eye that was nearly swollen at halftime.
Memphis scored the first eight points of the game and led 33-25 after the eventful first quarter with Morant scoring 14, Jackson 10. Curry had 11 for Golden State with Brooks in the locker room. The second quarter was a bit sloppy at times, with the Warriors going 2 of 11 from outside the arc with five turnovers.
The Grizzlies led 56-51 at halftime with Morant scoring the final four points of the second for Memphis, giving it 23.
Curry and Poole fueled a big third quarter in Game 1 by combining 23 points. This time Curry scored four points and Poole had six, but Golden State finished third on a 13-3 run to tie at 77. Morant was hit in the face in the closing seconds and went to the bench in saying he could ‘not see out of his left eye.
Golden State took its first lead of the game in the first minute of the fourth on a Poole layup, and the Warriors led 81-77. Memphis responded with a 9-2 streak capped by 3 straights from Williams, who missed the last two playoff games with right knee pain.
New York Post