VOL. 8 | NO. 21 | Saturday, May 16, 2015
With barrage of 3-pointers, Warriors close out Grizz in Game 6
By Don Wade
Stephen Curry said the Golden State Warriors didn’t find themselves until the Memphis Grizzlies “hit us in the mouth two games in a row.”
But as the Warriors closed out this Western Conference semifinal series Friday night at FedExForum with a 108-95 victory, and Curry delivered a 3-point shot well beyond half court as the third quarter ended, they returned the favor and then some.
Curry’s improbable shot (yes, even for him it was improbable) hiked the Warriors’ lead back to eight points and provided lasting imagery of the difference between these two teams.
“It was a shot to the gut,” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said.
It was perhaps preceded by a foul that wasn’t called as Andre Iguodala appeared to more or less maul the Grizzlies’ Jeff Green, which caused the ball to pop free and be available for Curry’s heroics, but that shot in and of itself did not decide this game or this series.
“You just get three points,” said center Marc Gasol, who led Memphis with 21 points and 15 rebounds in Game 6. “You keep playing, keep pushing. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. They don’t give you 20 points, they give you three.”
Problem was, big picture, the Warriors seemed able to make shots from anywhere and everywhere. In Game 6, they hit a playoff-best 15 3-pointers. Curry was 8 of 13 from deep on the way to a game-high 32 points. But Iguodala also had three makes from 3-point range and Klay Thompson knocked down three long shots. While the Warriors finished 15-for-32 (46.9 percent), the Grizzlies were shooting 25 percent from deep – 4 of 16.
If the series was in some measure a referendum on style of play, the modern era defeated the throwback era four games to two and finished with three straight double-digit wins.
“Good series,” Joerger said. “It was about whose style won out.”
Said point guard Mike Conley, who was for 0-for-6 from 3-point range in Game 6: “They’re tough to defend. They spread the court so much. They have five guys on the perimeter and they set hard screens. We are who we are. We have big guys.”
And playing through Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph worked well enough to win 55 games in the regular season, beat Portland in five games in the first round, and hold a 2-1 series lead over the Warriors before the West’s top seed took control.
“I’m proud of our group,” Joerger said. “We had a tremendous season. We bypassed a lot of expectations around the country. I don’t know that we surpassed ours.”
Had Conley been fully healthy – he wore a mask after having surgery for facial fractures, and was still battling a sore foot and ankle – and had Tony Allen been healthy (he missed Game 5 and played sparingly in Game 6 because of a hamstring strain) perhaps there would be a Game 7. But it’s impossible to know.
“I’m sorry,” Gasol said, refusing to make excuses. “Injuries happen in basketball. That’s why you have a 15-man roster. Next man up. You gotta play.”
Gasol becomes a free agent this summer but he again said he had not given the matter serious consideration yet, only that he would use the summer to get in still better shape and improve his game.
As for the Warriors, they now await the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 showdown between the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets. Golden State has returned to the conference finals for the first time in 39 years.
“We’ve heard about it. That’s amazing, been a long time,” said forward Draymond Green. “We also know we have a lot of work left to do.”