With a 106-101 win in Game 2, the Memphis Grizzlies tied their second round series with the Golden State Warriors. Morant led all scorers, scoring 47 points in the playoffs. He joins LeBron James (47 points) and Kobe Bryant (101-101) as the only two players to score multiple 45-point playoff games. ESPN Stats also shows that Bryant is the only player to have scored more than 45 points before the age 23 mark.
Golden State's Stephen Curry scored 27 points to lead the way. This was despite Memphis' defense holding the Warriors to only 18.4 percent 3-point shooting. Jordan Poole scored 20 points in the loss. Game 3 will be played in San Francisco on Saturday.
These are the three main takeaways from Memphis’ series-tying win.
Morant brought the Grizzlies home by scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter. He was extremely aggressive and made 31 shots. Twelve of those shots were from beyond the arc. He made five 3s throughout the night as the Warriors got away from him. He'll be officially undefended if he hits that shot consistently, which is possible with this amount of space. He may be.
2. Brick Brothers
Curry and Klay Thompson shot 5 for 23, from 3, and 16 for 44, respectively. Many of them had good looks and some were completely open. Curry missed one shot late in the game with a wide-open view. Even one of his made 3s was a straight walk-in shot at the top of the key.
Curry is still having a difficult time shooting this season. He's currently 27 for 70 in the playoffs (38%) This is a good number, except for Curry, who hasn’t been anywhere close to his best shooting this season. Curry is unpredictable from game to game, and rarely makes the big shots. His misses can show how committed a shooter is. Are they long or short? A better indicator or just missing the mark all together? Curry is 8 for 23 from deep in the series' first two games. This season, he has missed more than any time I can recall.
There's going to be a lot of talk about the Warriors' 18 turnovers in Game 2 and their inability, or unwillingness, to value the ball in general, but this team has always been reckless/careless/flat-out stupid with the ball. They can't shoot consistently to get out of trouble now because Curry and Thompson aren't the marksmen that they were, or haven't been this year.
3. Payton news is a terrible bummer
It was a shocker to learn that Payton has a fractured left elbow. He bounced around endlessly trying to find a job in the NBA. The Warriors offered him a stable job and he was able to start the first two games. This change has a huge impact on the series. Payton was the No. 1 Morant defender. If the Warriors had made it to the conference finals and faced the Suns, then you'd have seen more of Payton on Chris Paul or Devin Booker. He had his moment.
Dillon Brooks took it from him. Steve Kerr described it as a dirty play and I agree. Brooks did not intend to harm Payton. However, he made an irresponsible play on Payton who was in midair and knew it would put him in a very vulnerable position. That's dirty.
We can only hope that Payton recovers from his injuries and doesn't lose his freedom to choose what he wants this summer. He isn't a man who has made millions. This is his first job in a steady NBA position. He was set to sign his first financial-securing contract this summer. He will hopefully still receive the money he earned but we don't yet know how severe.
For the Warriors, Payton's departure is a huge blow. The Warriors' success is dependent on Payton's defense, cutting and finishing skills and general energy. While Andre Iguodala may be able to return to the top perimeter positions, there is no way to replace Payton and all that he brought. There is no other way.