The Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies were each without key people for Monday’s Game 4. The Dubs were without defensive ace Gary Payton II, who fractured his elbow in Game 2, and head coach Steve Kerr, who tested positive for COVID before the game. And the Grizzlies were without star point guard Ja Morant, who injured his knee in Saturday’s Game 3.
Both teams played like they were missing key pieces. About 20 key pieces each, if we’re being honest. The first half was ugly. Beyond ugly. Neither team could buy a bucket.
At the half the Warriors had all of 38 points. They had shot 31% from the field. They had shot 10% from the three-point line. They only trailed by three points, because the Grizzlies were barely shooting any better.
The third quarter wasn’t much better. The offense started to flow a little bit for each team, but when the third quarter buzzer rang, it still looked like a halftime score, with the Grizzlies leading 69-62.
And when the fourth quarter began, you started to think the impossible would happen: that Golden State would really lose, at home, to a Morant-less Grizzlies team. They fell behind more. They fell behind by double digits. They fell behind by 12 points.
Then the rally came. Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins made huge stops. Jordan Poole breathed life into the offense. Kevon Looney did a little bit of everything. And Otto Porter Jr. played like a star.
They chipped away at the lead, and chipped away at the lead, and finally, with 45.7 seconds left, Steph Curry made a pair of free throws that gave the Warriors a 94-93 lead. It was their first lead of the game.
They got a stop, and then Curry made two more free throws. They gave up a layup and then Curry made two more free throws. They got another stop and — you guessed it — Curry made two more free throws.
A buzzer-beating heave by Dillon Brooks provided some window dressing, but the game was over, and the Warriors won 101-98.
It was ugly. It was dramatic. It was almost an entirely inexcusable result.
But wins are all that matter in the playoffs, and the Warriors won 101-98 to take a 3-1 series lead. They’ll have a chance to close out the series on Wednesday in Memphis.