Ja Morant exploded for 47 points, tying his postseason high, and scored Memphis’ final 15 points as the Grizzlies evened their Western Conference semifinal series against the visiting Golden State Warriors at a game apiece with a 106-101 victory on Tuesday night, May 3 (Wednesday, May 4, Manila time).
In a game that featured the ejection of Grizzlies defensive ace Dillon Brooks and stitches to Warriors star Draymond Green’s face, Memphis avenged a 117-116 home loss in Game 1 as the best-of-seven travels to San Francisco for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday.
Morant’s late flurry began after Stephen Curry nailed a three-pointer that gave third-seeded Golden State a 95-91 lead with 4:33 to go.
The young standout’s step-back triple with 2:28 remaining put the Grizzlies on top, 98-97. And after Curry countered with a layup, Morant dropped in a seven-foot floater to give Memphis the lead for good with 1:42 to go.
Golden State hung within 102-101 with 40.2 seconds remaining after Green dropped in a layup, but Morant countered with another floater with 30.7 seconds left to open a three-point advantage.
Following a Klay Thompson traveling violation, Morant iced the win with two free throws with 13.2 seconds remaining. He equaled his point total in a loss to the Utah Jazz in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
Morant shot 5-for-12 on three-pointers, helping the Grizzlies outscore Golden State, 42-21, from beyond the arc.
He also tied added 8 rebounds and 8 assists, while Ziaire Williams chipped in with 14 points, Jaren Jackson Jr. 12 before fouling out, and Brandon Clarke 10.
Despite hitting just 3-of-11 of his three-point attempts, Curry led the Warriors with 27 points. Jordan Poole added 20, while Andrew Wiggins had 16, and Thompson, who went just 2-for-12 on treys, had 12.
Green finished with a game-high 10 rebounds to go with 7 assists and 6 points. Curry also had 9 rebounds while tying Morant with 8 assists.
In a tight game from start to finish, the Grizzlies led 56-51 at halftime, but two early incidents were much more significant than the five-point difference.
Just 2:52 into the game, Brooks was ejected for a hard swipe at Gary Payton II’s head on a layup attempt. Brooks was slapped with a flagrant foul 2, which includes an automatic ejection, while Payton was lost for the rest of the game with a left-elbow injury incurred on his hard fall.
Seconds later, Green took an inadvertent elbow to the right side of his face from Xavier Tillman, forcing him to leave the game and requiring stitches. He was able to return to start the second quarter.
Morant had 23 of his 47 points in the first half, during which the Warriors missed 15-of-19 from long range. The Grizzlies missed 13-of-20 treys. – Rappler.com