Stephen Curry made eight free throws in the final 45.7 seconds en route to 32 points, powering the Golden State Warriors down the stretch to a 101-98 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night and a 3-point lead. -1 in the final. Western Conference Semifinals.
Curry also dished out eight assists as Golden State rallied to win without head coach Steve Kerr after he tested positive for COVID-19 less than two hours before kickoff.
“Obviously there are butterflies, because again you come into the game with a certain mindset and it’s a great game. Every game we play at this point in the year is huge,” said Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown, who agreed Sunday to take over the Sacramento Kings when this postseason ends.
“So for them to throw that kind of thing at you, you have to switch gears because I know what my responsibilities are as Mike Brown, the assistant coach, and that changes.”
But Brown has done this before. He led the Warriors to an 11-0 record during the 2017 title race when Kerr was dealing with debilitating symptoms from complications from back surgery two years earlier.
“I think his head coaching record for a Warrior playoff game is undefeated,” Klay Thompson said. “We miss Steve a lot, just the voice of him, the presence of him, but we’ve been here before, in 2017 when Mike took over and we had a lot of wins, so I reflected on that a lot.
Curry took over and now his Warriors are one win away from a trip to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2019. He tied it at 90 on a baseline jumper with 3:25 to go and his two free throws at 45.7 seconds left gave the Warriors a 94-93 lead, their first of the night. Golden State scored 39 points in the quarter, topping their 38 points in the entire first half.
“Nothing we found out, it was just not letting the first three quarters factor into the fact that we still had a chance to win the game,” Curry said. “Shoot the shots you think you can make, play aggressive, take care of the ball. We did all those things.”
Tyus Jones had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists as Memphis was without injured All-Star Ja Morant. Dillon Brooks returned from a one-game suspension and fought hard, missing a 3-point attempt with 53 seconds left and going 5-for-19 with 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
“It’s hard. It is a hard pill to swallow. I felt like we were leading the whole game,” Jones said. “It seemed like we were in a good position. We feel like we put ourselves in a good position to win a ball game and things didn’t go our way down the stretch.”
Andrew Wiggins had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Thompson had 14 points despite missing all seven of his 3-point attempts for the Warriors, who didn’t have to deal with Morant this time. The Grizzlies guard missed the game with sore right knee after Jordan Poole grabbed him while searching for a fumble late in Game 3, leading Morant and Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins to question the Poole’s intentions. It was unclear if Morant would return for Game 5 on Wednesday in Memphis.
Brooks sat out Game 3 as a league penalty for his 2 flagrant foul that injured Gary Payton II in Game 2, when Brooks hit the Golden State guard in the head on a layup attempt and Payton went down hard and his left elbow was broken. Kerr called it a “dirty” play and said Brooks had violated an NBA code of conduct.
Brooks was booed almost every time he touched the ball, fouled or returned to the game.
“He forced a couple. Trying to get his groove back,” Jenkins said. “Obviously he’s been out for a couple of days. But when he played with the force under control, I loved the play that he had.”
Draymond Green’s former teammate at Michigan State, Adreian Payne, was killed in a shooting in Florida that same day. Green did not comment on the shooting, but pledged $100,000 to form a fund in Payne’s honor.
“It was an emotional day,” Thompson said. “Pray to the family of Adreian and Draymond, I know they played together. It’s just a terrible loss of life. His legacy will live on, it’s just a sad day.”
In Monday’s other game, Al Horford capped a 10-0 run by driving down the baseline, hitting a game-tying dunk and fouling two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Horford celebrated by letting out a yell and raising his fists.
Horford’s big moment was the signature play in a fourth-quarter comeback that allowed the Boston Celtics to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-108 and tie their Eastern Conference semifinal at two games apiece.
“I usually mind my own business,” said Horford, who finished with a career-high 30 playoff points. “I get emotional, but I guess you choose your places, your moments. This was an emotional game.”
The teams have alternated wins in this best-of-seven series, which continues Wednesday with Game 5 in Boston.