MEMPHIS, TN – Draymond Green was ejected, Jordan Poole scored 31 points and the Warriors rallied in the second half to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 117-116 to take a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.
An unbelievable game riddled with fouls that left Golden State befuddled. Stephen Curry had 5 fouls and finished with 24 points. Gary Payton II who started in place of Jordan Poole also had 5 fouls. Klay Thompson had 15 points and had 3 fouls.
“The Jordan we’ve seen over the last few months, this is what it looks like,” said Steve Kerr. “You know he’s not always going to make five three’s and 31 points. He’s a playmaker, shot creator and he’s been fantastic for us all season.”
Poole scored a playoff career-high 31 points to go along with a playoff career-high eight rebounds and playoff career-high nine assists. The 31 points were the sixth-most points scored by a Warriors reserve in a playoff game. Poole has recorded two 30-plus point games this postseason.
“We’re not the same team without him,” Poole said regarding Draymond’s ejection. “We responded well and huge win especially with him (Draymond) going out early.”
Golden State struggled in the first half due to early foul trouble. Green was ejected late in the second quarter on a Flagrant 2 foul which is an automatic ejection. Curry led all scores with 8 points for the Warriors who collapsed in the paint against a dominant Grizzlies team. Ja Morant who had 34 points dominated the boards throughout the game.
Memphis led by as much as 13 points in the second quarter. Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 33 points and went 7-for-9 behind the arc. Poole was a big factor in closing the gap for Golden State in the second period. He had scored 14 points to cut the lead 61-55 to end the half.
The Warriors went on a 14-0 run to start the third. Curry made three back-to-back shots and gave Golden State a 5 point lead. Thompson who sat on the bench much of the first half, found his shot in the second half, he scored 12 points and made the go-ahead three-pointer with 36.6 left in the game. He also made a defensive stop on the final play of the game to help seal the Warriors victory.
“I played angry, I played angry,” Thompson said. “Then Andre [Iguodala] grabbed me at the end of the game, he said ‘keep your composure!’”.
Thompson missed two crucial free throws in the final seconds but made up for it on the final play of the game. He got back down court quickly and forced Morant take a tough shot that he missed that would’ve given Memphis the win.
Golden State didn’t play their best basketball but they did what they were supposed to and that was win one on the road.
“I just missed everything about this atmosphere and opportunity to play,” said Curry. “Being out for the last two years and missed the playoff runs is a reminder of what you look forward to. This is why you go through everything during the regular season. Why it matters and when you show up on a stage like this, there’s no better feeling.”
Photo by Warriors/Twitter