SAN FRANCISCO – Six players scored in double figures, Stephen Curry 30 points helped the Golden State Warriors smother Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies 142-112 to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Curry missed his first two shots of the game before scoring his first points by drilling a three-pointer with 0.9 seconds left in the first quarter when the Warriors trailed 28-26. It was the 120th consecutive postseason game that Curry made a three-point basket, the longest streak in NBA history.
Klay Thompson had 21 points and a team-high nine rebounds, Jordan Poole added 27 points off the bench and Andrew Wiggins finished with 17 points(15 in the first half) for Golden State, who rode a 10-0 run to put a stranglehold on the game. The Warriors led 64-54 before Morant knocked down a three-pointer from mid-court at the buzzer to cut the Golden State’s lead to 64-57 at halftime.
Morant finished with a game-high 34 points after tying his playoff career-high 47 points in Game 2. Just like Game 2, Morant was the Grizzlies main scorer in Game 3 but this time, he was unable to lift Memphis to a win. At the 6:19 mark in the fourth quarter, Morant limped to the locker room rubbing his right knee.
The injury occurred when both Poole and Wiggins collapsed defensively on Morant as he dribbled at the top of the three-point arc when Morant struggled to maintain possession. Replays appeared to show Poole grabbing Morant’s right knee, which Poole described it as a basketball play with him going for the ball.
“Obviously, you don’t want to see anybody get hurt, I’m not that type of player,” Poole said after the game. “I respect everybody.”
Morant left Chase Center without speaking to reporters but posted and later deleted a video of the play via his Twitter account with the words “broke the code,” a reference Warriors head coach Steve Kerr used four days ago when Dillon Brooks hard foul injured Gary Payton II in Game 2.
Brooks was suspended for his Flagrant 2 foul on Payton in the first quarter in Tuesday night’s game after swiping at the head of a Payton who made a driving layup. Payton fell hard to the floor and fracturing his left elbow. Payton will be out indefinitely with ligament and muscle damage.
Rookie Jonathan Kuminga was inserted into the starting lineup, he finished with 18 points in 18 minutes. Otto Porter Jr. added 13 points off the bench, including three three-pointers.
The game flipped in the third quarter in Golden State’s favor as the Warriors went on a 18-8 run increasing their lead to 82-65 before outscoring the Grizzlies 37-23 in the period.
Golden State’s offense was hot, shooting 63-percent (53 for 84) including 17-of-32 from the three-point line. Thompson, who shot 8-of-13 from the floor, nailed four three-pointers.
In the first two games of the series, Thompson had been 11-of-38 from the field including 5-of-22 on three-pointers. His performance tonight was the step in the right direction for Thompson.
“The shot selection was much improved,” said Kerr. “When we’re getting good shots, the chances of Klay getting hot are much greater, and when he gets hot, our team takes on a different look…We just become much tougher to guard.”
Draymond Green filled up the stat sheet, he finished with eight assists, five points and five rebounds. He implored the Warriors to do more on offense to better the defense. In the first half, Golden State had trouble holding on to the basketball committing 14 turnovers leading to 19 points for Memphis.
“We were just too frenetic to start off the game,” Kerr said.
In the second half, the Warriors committed two turnovers for two points. Coming into tonight’s game, Golden State averaged 18 turnovers a game this series.
Desmond Bane finished with 16 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. added 15 points for Memphis, who shot 43-percent (40-of-92) from the floor and 16-of-43 from three-point range. The Grizzlies shot 6-of-11 from beyond the three-point arc in the first quarter and jumped out to a 18-6 lead while fans sat stunned in silence in their seats at Chase Center.
De’Anthony Melton had 12 points off the bench for Memphis.
The Warriors outrebounded the Grizzlies 21-14 in the first half before finishing with a 53-37 edge on the glass. Golden State shot 19-for-21 from the free throw line, while Memphis shot 16-of-21 from the charity stripe.
With the win tonight, the Warriors are now 4-0 at home this postseason and 49-11 (13-9 in Game 3s) dating to the 2015 title run that ended Golden State’s 40-year championship drought.
Game 4 is Monday night back at Chase Center.
Photo by Warriors/Twitter