Game 3 did not start well for the Golden State Warriors. They were sloppy on offense, with seven first quarter turnovers. They had poor shot selection. Their defense was fine, but the Memphis Grizzlies bested it anyway, making three after three after three.
At one point the Grizzlies led 21-8. Chase Center was quiet. Steph Curry was scoreless.
And then the Warriors made a shot, and made another shot, and made a few more dozen shots. Before long you forgot entirely that there had ever been a double-digit deficit, and the rout was officially on.
Things started to turn midway through the first quarter when Jordan Poole, now back on the bench, came in and injected energy into the lineup. By the time the quarter ended, the Dubs had pulled to within two points.
With momentum squarely in their favor, the Warriors set off to win the second quarter. A successful zone defense kept Ja Morant relatively in check, while Otto Porter Jr. put on a show off the bench. They tied the game, took the lead, and pushed the lead to double digits. And then Andrew Wiggins punctuated it:
WIGGS TOLD CLARKE TO SIT DOWN pic.twitter.com/RlYjhagtGE— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 8, 2022
A Morant halfcourt buzzer-beater gave the Grizzlies some life going into halftime, and cut the Warriors lead to seven. But the third quarter Warriors did not care. No, the third quarter Warriors did not care even a little bit.
They started the second half on a 10-0 run, and the game felt over. The Grizzlies have made a habit out of big playoff comebacks, but the Warriors are not the Minnesota Timberwolves, and they didn’t fold. They just added on, and added on. The lead was 20 when the third quarter ended, and Memphis never threatened to cut into it in the fourth quarter.
Both teams emptied the bench with about four minutes left, and the Warriors cruised to a 142-112 victory, thanks to shooting 62.7% from the field and 51.6% from three-point range. For those keeping score at home that’s a 134-91 run to end the game.
Despite his slow start, Curry ended up stealing the show by the time the game was over, finishing with 30 points on 7-for-14 shooting, and going a perfect 14-for-14 from the free throw line.
Poole added 27 and Klay Thompson chipped in 21, while Jonathan Kuminga, who got the start, had 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
But it was Wiggins and Porter who were the quiet stars of the night. Wiggins had 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting, and some tremendous defense. He did exactly what the Warriors ask him to do on both sides of the ball, looking like a superstar role player. Porter did a little bit of everything en route to 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and one steal. He kept the ball moving, made big shots, and played ferocious defense. The Warriors outscored the Grizzlies by 30 points in his 24 minutes, and fought Memphis to a draw in the 24 minutes when he sat.
The only downside of the game was Morant leaving in the fourth quarter after appearing to hurt his knee. Fingers crossed that he’s OK ... that’s not how the Warriors want to win the series.
Golden State now has a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 on Monday night at Chase Center. It was one of the best performances of the year for the Dubs, who just might be finding their stride at the absolute perfect time.