Golden State misses NBA playoffs as 35-year-old Ja Morant elevates Memphis to win in play-in

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Ja Morant made back-to-back jumps in the final 48 seconds of overtime and scored 35 points, Memphis had an answer for every burst from Stephen Curry, and the Grizzlies returned to the playoffs for the first time in four years after fending off the Golden State Warriors. 117-112 Friday night in an exciting play-in game.

Jordan Poole hit a three-point green light with 1:50 left in OT for Golden State only to see Xavier Tillman respond with a baseline three moments later. Poole lost the ball out of bounds leading to Morant’s basket with four seconds left, then Poole made another unlikely three with two seconds left.

Morant shot 14 for 29 with five three points as Memphis more than doubled his depth tally this time against Golden State to win on the Warriors’ home floor just five days after losing 113-101 in the season finale regular.

Curry, who became the goalscoring champion against the Grizzlies on Sunday, finished with 39 points and six three-pointers while dazzling in front of a lively, roaring crowd of 7,505 in the biggest game to date at the sophomore Chase Center. .

Memphis had an answer for every burst from Stephen Curry in Friday’s play-in win over Golden State.

Memphis won the No. 8 seed and qualified to face seeded Utah in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs among the top seven. Game opener is Sunday in Salt Lake City.

” A fight. We faced them earlier in the season, obviously we missed out, ”said Morant. “The best team in the league right now. We know what to expect. We have to lock in and play 48 minutes. “

These teams needed every tick of the clock during overtime to decide this one after a furious final minute of settlement – and the NBA had to love it.

Andrew Wiggins equalized on a layup with 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter on a nice pass from new star Poole and Memphis committed a clock violation on the other end.

Kyle Anderson made a pair of free throws with 54.9 seconds left after being fouled by Curry, who had just converted two free throws to tie the game at 1:12. Curry went through the paint and caught the sixth foul on Jonas Valanciunas.

The Grizzlies came with aggression, determination and absolutely no fear, going to Golden State all over the place – smashing the offensive glass to create extra chances, jumping into passing lanes to force turnovers and getting a lot more production from the bench. than in the previous two. Games.

Then Curry let himself go, as he has been doing all season in one of his best years yet.

Curry’s three-point game with 9:40 left took Golden State to 80-78, then he made a magnificent three the next time around falling back. Morant hit deep moments later.

Memphis had to make it to the playoffs the hard way: winning two play-in games.

The Grizzlies held off San Antonio 100-96 at home Wednesday night and then returned to the Bay Area. The Warriors lost a crush against LeBron James and the Lakers 103-100 at Staples Center on Wednesday.

Memphis ended a three-year playoff drought after making seven straight appearances in 2016-17, and lost in the first round on his two previous trips and four of those seven appearances in all.

Down 24-14, Curry scored 10 straight points with a three-point play, four-point play and a long 3-point pointer to get Golden State at 26-24 late in the first.

The Warriors wanted to be focused from the opening point, expecting another hot start from the Grizzlies who delivered just that – making their first seven shots and three threes to advance 18-6.

Memphis took an early lead over Golden State last week and also against the Spurs.

“We have to be prepared for their quick start,” said Steve Kerr, who called the time out at 8:31 of the opening quarter. Every Golden State starter except Kent Bazemore has had an early turnover.

Golden State missed Curry Splash Brother Klay Thompson for the second straight season, this time as he treated a torn right Achilles tendon just before training camp that required surgery.

The Warriors failed to return to the playoffs for the first time since reaching five straight NBA Finals in 2019 before losing in six games to Toronto.


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