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The Final Recap: Grizzlies fall to a better team

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Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, when the game was over, there were no blue and gold streamers floating down from rafters at the FedExForum.

T-Pain did not blare "all I do is win, win, win no matter what" through the arena.

Grizzlies PA announcer Rick Trotter did not scream, "GRRRRRRIIIIIZZZZZLLLLIEEESSSS WIIIIINNNNN."

Because, well, these things only happen when the Grizzlies win, and on Friday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semi Finals, they did not.

Yet, the fans who stayed stood up and applauded their Memphis Grizzlies as they walked off the court for the final time in the 2014-15 season because they had fought with everything they had, and they deserved it.

"We were going to go down fighting regardless," said Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee. "That's our DNA. That's who we are. We really wanted to win this bad, not only for ourselves, but for the city of Memphis."

But, alas, Steph Curry and his band of three-point-shooting mercenaries proved to be too much in the end.

It was a game that seemed like it was going to get away from the Grizzlies right from the outset. The Warriors jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, and as we've all been reminded about a billion times this series, the Warriors are 156-0, or something like that, this season when leading a game by 15+ points.

But the Grizzlies fought back. They managed to cut the lead down to single digits before halftime thanks to a Lee buzzer-beater.

The third quarter's pace was much more to the Grizzlies' liking. Often times you'll see teams go on offensive stretches where they seemingly can't miss - the Warriors are very good at this. Well, the Grizzlies do something similar, but only on the defensive end. They simply do not allow their opponents to score, and that went on for a good portion of the third quarter. They forced the Warriors into numerous turnovers and near-shot-clock-violation misses.

The Grizzlies were about to go into the fourth quarter down a very manageable five points, but...

Then it happened.

"I practice that shot everyday," said Curry. "That whole third quarter, the Grizzlies made a push, and we just couldn't get any stops. They were making shots, and their crowd was into it. Then Dre (Andre Igoudala) gets, what looked like a clean play from my vantage point, he got his hand on the ball. It looked kind of weird. But the ball gets free. I grab it, knowing we have a couple of seconds left. I just chunked it up there and it looked good the whole way. It was kind of fun to see it go in. The whole momentum changed. We went up eight going into the fourth quarter."

At that moment, it felt like we had just watched the Alamo reenacted in basketball form.

No matter how deep the Grizzlies dug in or how hard they punched back, the Warriors always had a response. They simply overwhelmed the Grizzlies with their offensive firepower. Every single three that the Warriors hit felt like a back-breaker.

"We fought like heck to get back into the game," said Vince Carter. "We told everyone to leave it out on the floor, and see what happens. We did that. It's, just, it's disappointing."

Vince is right; it is disappointing, but only because of the fact that the season is over. If you'll remember, many had the expectation of Western-Conference-Finals-or-bust, and if you go by that then this season was a disappointment. But if you think back to what transpired throughout the season and what the Grizzlies had to go through to get to this point, it is difficult to say that this season was not successful.

The Memphis Grizzlies lost to a team that was better than them. It's pretty simple. I don't know how anyone, no matter how big of a Grizzlies fan you are, could watch that series and say, "The Grizzlies are better than the Warriors. That was disappointing."

Look, the Grizzlies beat the best team in the NBA, twice, while having to deal with a slew of injuries - including their point guard, who had a broken face and a red eyeball, and the league's best perimeter defender, who dealt with hamstring issues.

Now, the off-season begins, and the Grizzlies are going to be faced with potential franchise-altering decisions.

Marc Gasol is a free agent. Kosta Koufos is a free agent. Jeff Green has a player option for next season. Vince Carter will turn 39 next season, will he decide to return for a 20th season? Beno Udrih's contract is not guaranteed next season. Nick Calathes will almost certainly not return. What will happen with the wing player who were so offensively inconsistent and erratic?

And then there's the question of has the 'Grit-N-Grind' era run it's course? Is it time to move on?

These are all legitimate questions that will have to answered this off-season.

But for the next few days, I think it's fair to reflect on the season that was. Mike Conley did a good job summing up not only Game 6, but the season as a whole.

"We don't make excuses at the end of the day," said Conley. "We fought hard. I think we gave everything we had. Guys that were injured played; guy who were healthy gave it everything that they had. That's all we can ask for. We lost to a very good team."