The Golden State Warriors are so used to having Steph Curry around in crunch time that it came as a shock to see him ejected in the dying moments of a close game. That’s exactly what happened at Chase Center, though, as he was thrown out with 1:14 left on the clock for throwing his mouthpiece in an act of frustration after Jordan Poole rushed a shot. It was the third ejection of Curry’s career, and they all happened due to the same act.
Curry’s anger stemmed from the fact that the Warriors were holding onto a slim 116-114 lead at the time, and the Grizzlies were simply not going away. Curry finished the game with 34 points on 10 of 19 shooting, and he was having an excellent second half.
Ja Morant, who finished the game with 29 points and 13 assist while shooting 10 of 20 from the field quickly tied the game after Curry was tossed, and a tense battle for the victory followed shortly after. After Draymond Green split a pair of free throws, Morant got to the line and sank both of his shots to give Memphis the 118-117 lead.
However, as he’s done so many times in his career, Klay Thompson delivered another big shot to give the Warriors a 120-118 advantage. Poole almost fumbled his pass to Thompson, but elite shooters only need inches of space to get a shot off. Thompson had struggled from the field and finished 9 of 23, but it’s worth nothing that he finished 5 of 10 from beyond the arc.
The Grizzlies wouldn’t go away, though, as Morant found Brandon Clarke for a game-tying dunk that left the score knotted at 120-120 with 6.1 seconds left on the clock.
However, that’s when Jordan Poole made up for his earlier transgression and made the game-winning layup. It was a big-time shot from someone considered heir apparent to Curry, and it sent the fans into raptures.
Curry was waiting in the tunnel to congratulate his young teammate, which was a nice sight to see. Poole finished with a good all-around statline of 21 points, five rebounds, seven assists and a steal and shot 8 of 14 from the field.
This latest game between the two rivals makes me want to see them in the playoffs. They both traded some blowouts in the playoffs last year, but the defending champions must acknowledge that the young Grizzlies continue to improve and will be a dangerous opponent.
Memphis are currently second in the Western Conference in a tight race for playoff seeding while Golden State are playing catchup in ninth place. If the standings stay similar for the rest of the season, there is a very real chance that the two teams could meet in the first round. I’d be up for that, as it would certainly be a series full of drama, shit talking and highlights.