Grizzlies hold off Warriors in OT thriller for No. 8 seed

Maybe it was a good sign that Ja Morant made his first two 3-pointers. After his third quarter in the third quarter, he raised his finger to silence the crowd at the Chase Center.

The Memphis Grizzlies weren’t afraid to be eliminated on Friday. They bravely came out to keep up with the Golden State Warriors who didn’t want to lose at home. Morant brought Stephen Curry together with his shooting.

It took overtime to decide things and Morant got up for a floater 4.5 seconds before the end. He made it, moving his head angrily as Dillon Brooks hugged him.

Fans began to leave and the Grizzlies won 117-112 to end a four-year playoff drought and rise to number 8 in the Western Conference playoffs.

“I can’t say we’re surprised by the position we’re in because we’ve worked for it, but always grateful to be where we are,” said Morant.

A 10-point lead from Grizzlies in the fourth quarter faded with free throws from warriors and questionable decisions. A foul on Desmond Bane was not questioned by the Grizzlies, despite Jordan Poole knocking out his leg with a 3-pointer.

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He made all three and Curry tied the game with a couple. Then the Grizzlies called no time-out in their final possession of the regulation and got a shot-clock violation of a missed 3-pointer from Xavier Tillman.

Draymond Green missed a potential win in regulation. But it didn’t matter as the Grizzlies stayed tough and trusted Morant and their defenses to handle it.

Morant finished with 35 points, six rebounds and four steals. It was a superstar-level performance that he called the best game of his career in ESPN’s SportsCenter.

The Grizzlies were the youngest team to play the playoffs since the 2011 Oklahoma City Thunder. They relied heavily on this youth with newbies Tillman and Bane showing up in ugly trouble with Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr.

Tillman hit a 3-pointer with 1:27 left to bring the Grizzlies to 110-109. Morant followed with his last two baskets to begin the celebration.

Bane had 10 points and finished the game with an emphatic slam with 1.2 seconds left. Grayson Allen, who struggled returning from an injury on Wednesday, had 12 points, including two 3-point points in overtime.

It was the kind of gritty, disciplined game that the Grizzlies have won six of their last seven games. The Grizzlies forced 21 turnovers, and while Curry had 39 points, he shot 6:15 when Brooks was his main defender, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Curry’s season ended as a finalist for Most Valuable Player. Morant and the Grizzlies season continues on Sunday against Utah Jazz. It wasn’t a torch crossing, but a torch heist by Morant as he and the Grizzlies stayed alive to fight another day.

“I know it’s a great achievement for all of us, but I and Dillon know the job is still ongoing,” said Morant. “We’re not trying to make it to the playoffs. We have to focus on playing against Utah, which has the best record in the league.”

Follow Evan Barnes on Twitter @evan_b.

Jack

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