The Memphis Grizzlies went 20-5 without Ja Morant in the regular season, and it looked like they were on their way to another victory against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of their Western Conference Semifinals series. They led by as much as 12 points in the game, and were working hard to tie the series and retake the home court advantage.
The Grizzlies had a 93-90 lead with 1:11 left on the clock, but then the Warriors showed their championship DNA. They went on an 11-5 run to put themselves within one game of their first Conference Finals since the fateful 2018-19 season that saw both Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant succumb to horrible injuries in the NBA Finals.
This was one of those examples of how contenders never give up until the final minute, even when they’re having a terrible game. They were, at one point, 1 of 18 from three-point range, and finished the contest making 9 of 35 three-pointers. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole shot a collective 20 of 57 from the field and 4 of 24 from deep (with Curry making 4 of 14). Yet, they somehow still found a way to win.
The Warriors grabbed their first lead with 45.7 seconds left after Curry drove into the lane to draw a foul and sank two free throws. Desmond Bane then got called for an offensive foul after shoving Curry in the back, which then allowed Curry to sink another pair of free throws to make it 96-93. There’s a feasible argument that Curry may have sold that foul, but he got the call. Grizzlies fans will be fuming about that play for a really long time.
Dillon Brooks quickly cut that to 96-95 after a timeout, and then fouled Curry right after the inbound. The league’s best shooter calmly sank those free throws again to make it 98-95 and Draymond Green came up with a clutch block on Jaren Jackson Jr. with 9.7 seconds left on the clock.
Curry then made the advantage 100-95 with another pair of free throws. Andrew Wiggins further padded their lead after being fouled on a rebound by splitting free throws before Brooks banked in a meaningless three to end the game with a 101-98 scoreline.
Curry was the hero of the game with 32 points, five rebounds and eight assists, and he added another feather to his cap by becoming the first player in NBA history to have 500 career three-pointers made in the playoffs.
This will be a tough pill for the Grizzlies to swallow, because a 3-1 deficit is not what they wanted to see heading into Game 5. While a certain guy from Akron was able to overcome a 3-1 deficit against the Warriors in the past, it will be hard for Memphis to repeat the feat. Memphis weren’t able to capitalize on their earlier double-digit lead because they also shot terribly, finishing at 41.7% overall and 25.7% from beyond the arc, and they learned a painful lesson in what can happen if you let a team like the Warriors keep it close in the late game.
The Warriors are now the only team in the second round to take a 3-1 lead, as all six other teams are deadlocked at 2-2. They’ve got a chance to earn themselves some extra rest, but I have no doubt that the Grizzlies will bring their best to Game 5.