The Memphis Grizzlies approached Game 2, looking to avenge Game 1’s loss and to avoid going into San Francisco against the Golden State Warriors down 0-2. It was tough seeing them drop a game where Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson both score over 30 points. It becomes even more of a dropped opportunity after Draymond Green’s controversial flagrant 2 foul. Though they were the underdogs of the series, there was urgency to capitalize on homecourt to dodge the worst-case scenario.
The Grizzlies started the game on a strong 8-0 run. However, that was derailed when Dillon Brooks received a flagrant 2 ejection for knocking Gary Payton II in the head on a fastbreak layup attempt. Almost the very next play, Draymond Green went to the back after receiving an elbow from Xavier Tillman — later came back in during the start of the 2nd quarter. The Warriors closed the gap there. The game opened up in the Grizzlies’ favor after the dynamic play of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., closing the quarter with a 33-25 lead.
The 2nd quarter was pretty lethargic for 3/4s of the period. The Grizzlies scored just 11 points in the first 9 minutes. Brandon Clarke got posterized by Andrew Wiggins; he was a good lad. The crowd got back into it after a De’Anthony Melton block that led to a Ja Morant dunk. Morant continued the showtime play with an acrobatic layup over Draymond Green — still don’t know how he maneuvered his body like this:
Ja Morant is on another level pic.twitter.com/5f3gCKbWyn— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 4, 2022
The Grizzlies ended the half with a 55-51 lead.
The Grizzlies started out the quarter by taking a lead as much as 11. They were getting stops, and they were finding their spots offensively. Xavier Tillman, specifically, had a great perimeter interception that parlayed into a fastbreak jam. The Warriors ultimately closed the gap to tie the game, after Jaren Jackson picked up two fouls to give him his 4th. They crushed Memphis with their physicality inside to tie the game at 77 to go into the 4th quarter.
The Warriors started out the 4th quarter by taking their first lead of the game. Jaren Jackson’s 5th foul prompted Taylor Jenkins to roll with a questionably small lineup, and it led to the Warriors again leaning on force in the paint. Jaren Jackson ultimately fouled out, and it looked like the game would tilt in the Warriors’ favor after a wide-open Steph Curry 3 off a miscommunicated switch.
Then, Ja Morant took over. Whether it was a step-back 3 to take the lead, or an ankle-breaker on Jordan Poole, Morant was locked in and led the charge for the Grizzlies down the stretch. The Grizzlies came away with a 106-101 win to tie the series at 1 heading into San Francisco.
- Dillon Brooks has got to be smarter than that. Wherever you stand on the status of the call, any foul that blurred the lines of a flagrant 1 and 2 was going to be more scrutinized and tighter since Green’s ejection on Sunday. Brooks knocked the hell out of Gary Payton. He’s a veteran now, and he has to be smarter than that. Frustration from missing his first 3 shots? Perhaps. Nonetheless, the Grizzlies need Brooks locked in to get where they want to go in this series. Expect, and hope, for a mentality switch from him — both in these fouls and in his shot selection. Whether it’s in Game 3 or 4... that’s up for debate, given Gary Payton fractured his elbow on the play.
- Desmond Bane’s soreness. Desmond Bane doesn’t look the same right now. He’s moving gingerly, and he’s more tentative offensively. It’s clear that his back is bothering him. He’s going to benefit immensely from the 3-day break.
- Big bench energy from the perimeter. Given the two factors above, the Grizzlies need a jolt from the perimeter. Ziaire Williams and De’Anthony Melton came through. In his return to the rotation, Williams knocked down 4 three’s, and he made an impact defensively with his length and versatility to force the Warriors’ perimeter guys into tougher shots. Melton didn’t pop off scoring, but his activity level was awesome. He finished with 5 stocks (steals + blocks), and some of those blocks were empathic. The team needed extra bodies on the glass, and those 2 guys chipped in for 13 combined rebounds. The team likes to rely on its depth, and Williams and Melton were great examples for why they lean on it.
- Call 12. Ja Morant put together the most spectacular postseason performance in franchise history. He took matters into his own hands down the stretch in superstar-fashion. He also made the Warriors pay in a variety of ways — knocked down 5 three’s, hit all 13 of his free throw attempts, and scored 18 points in the paint. There was no stopping him.