Steph Curry leads Warriors to 2-1 series lead over Grizzlies
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 30 points, Klay Thompson had 21 and nine rebounds and the Golden State Warriors shut down Ja Morant’s supporting cast to embarrass the Memphis Grizzlies 142-112 on Saturday night for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Morant’s three just before the halftime buzzer got the Grizzlies to 64-57 at the break and gave him 17 of his 34 points after a 47-point performance in Game 2. But Morant couldn’t do it alone for Memphis, and he was done after rubbing his tender right knee and limping off with 6:19 to play before heading to the locker room.
Still bothered by Dillon Brooks’ hard foul in Game 2 that sidelined Gary Payton II, Draymond Green and Golden State kept cool from the opening tip — methodically running away with it. Instead, Memphis forward Kyle Anderson got ejected with 6:19 left for arguing an offensive foul.
Brooks was suspended for his Flagrant 2 foul in the first quarter Tuesday when he pounded the head of a driving Payton, who landed awkwardly and fractured his left elbow. He will be sidelined indefinitely, also with ligament and muscle damage.
Coach Steve Kerr said the play was “dirty” and broke an NBA “code” injuring someone and threatening his career, while Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins and his Grizzlies players defended their hard-nosed style as not dirty at all.
Brooks will be back for Game 4 on Monday night at Chase Center, where the raucous sellout crowd included two women holding signs of Payton’s face insisting the Warriors “Win it for Gary.”
Golden State did so with a balanced attack and energy on both ends after Green called for the offense to do more to better the defense.
Jordan Poole scored 27 points off the bench and Andrew Wiggins added 17 points for Golden State, which used a 10-0 run out of halftime to take command for good.
Rookie Jonathan Kuminga provided a spark starting in Payton’s place, while Ziare Williams was in for Brooks.
Curry missed his initial two shots then scored his first points of the game by making a big three with 0.9 left in the first as the Warriors trailed 28-26.
Morant hit a 31-foot 3-pointer midway through the first and Williams dunked shortly after for a 21-8 lead and Memphis made 6-of-9 shots to start the game. But the Grizzlies went cold and made only three of the next 12 and watched the Warriors close the quarter with an 18-7 burst.
Thompson shot 8 for 13 with four 3-pointers in a solid shooting night.
He had been 11 for 38 from the floor, including 5-of-22 on 3-pointers, so far in the series before finding a better groove. Kerr figured it would happen soon enough.
“Klay has been in a little bit of a rush. He’s trying too hard to get himself going and he just needs to be a little more patient,” Kerr said. “He’s had some good looks, but he’s also forced some others. He hasn’t really gotten into a good rhythm, so that’s hopefully something we can accomplish tonight.”
Grizzlies center Steven Adams was available to play for the first time this series after coming out of the league health and safety protocols but the big man didn’t play until the game was out of hand.
Grizzlies: G Desmond Bane’s troublesome back was sore during Game 2 but has improved. “His back is progressing. I don’t think he’s at full strength like he was in the regular season but he’s the ultimate competitor,” coach Taylor Jenkins said. Bane had 16 points in 29 minutes. … Memphis shot 6-of-11 from 3-point range in the opening quarter.
Warriors: The Warriors outrebounded the Grizzlies 21-14 in the first half and 53-37 overall. … Golden State is 4-0 playing at home during this postseason and 49-11 dating to the 2015 title run that ended with the franchise’s first championship in 40 years.