In a dominant performance in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series, the Grizzlies won 134-95 — leading by as many as 55 points — at the FedExForum.
Memphis never struggled in outscoring the normally potent Warriors offense, even without star point guard Ja Morant, who is doubtful for the remainder of the postseason with a bone bruise in his right knee suffered in Game 3.
Memphis scored 77 points in the first half, the most in franchise postseason history. The Grizzlies’ 52-point lead after three quarters equaled the record for the largest in a playoff game in the past 70 years.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane and Tyus Jones each scored 21 points, keeping Golden State at arm’s length and forcing a Game 6 in San Francisco with the Warriors leading the overall series at 3-2.
Afterwards, Jackson Jr. said Memphis’ high tempo was what helped them stay in front.
“We were just playing fast. You know how we like playing fast,” he told the media. “We wanted to bring that energy early. We just kept our foot on the gas, and everybody contributed. Even 12 (Morant) over there, with his ice on.”
For the Warriors, it was a disappointing evening with the opportunity to advance to the Western Conference finals on the line.
Three-time NBA champion Klay Thompson called it “awful” and “embarrassing.”
“From the opening tip, we didn’t have great flow, they were more aggressive than us,” he explained. “We all had the mindset we were going to close it out tonight, but sometimes, basketball’s not an exact science.”
But Draymond Green was more measured about the blowout loss: “Down by 55, or down by 5, lose by 50, lose by 5, you lost. It’s one game in the loss column of the series. Won’t make too much of it.”
He added: “You definitely want to flush it, but you also have to learn from it. It’s not like flushing, you see this team again in two months. You see this team in two days. So you learn from it and then you flush it, you make the necessary adjustments, and then you flush it. What you flush is the end result. Move on from that.”
The teams face off in a potentially decisive Game 6 on Friday.
‘Whoop That Trick’
There has certainly been no love lost during this Warriors-Grizzlies series.
From Green being ejected in Game 1 and Dillon Brooks ejected in Game 2 to Morant suffering a knee injury and saying Golden State’s Jordan Poole “broke the code.”
But on Wednesday night, in the midst of a huge blowout result, there was finally some space for some levity.
Ahead of Game 5, Steph Curry said the Warriors game plan was to “Whoop That Trick.”
This was a reference to the song by Memphis-born rapper Al Kapone which was performed in the movie “Hustle & Flow” by Terrence Howard. Over recent years, it has become an anthem of the Grizzlies during late-game moments.
And in the fourth quarter of Game 5, with Memphis holding an unassailable lead, Kapone came out onto the FedExForum floor to perform the song to the delight of the crowd.
As Jackson Jr. and Morant danced on the Memphis sidelines and as the Grizzlies fans waved their towels in unison, so did the Warriors bench.
Curry was seen laughing while Green waved his own towel above his head in unison.
“They not gonna whoop that trick alone,” Green said. “We gonna whoop that trick together if we’re gonna whoop that trick.
“One thing I don’t respect is people who only bring it when they win it, embrace crowds when you win it. We call those front runners. We’re not front runners, you know? We got our ass kicked. That’s all right. It happens. But you don’t be a front runner.
“When you spew it out, you got to be willing to take it and not hide from it, not duck from it, embrace it. I appreciated the crowd tonight, the energy that they brought to the game. If they want to whoop that trick, we’re going to whoop them again.”
Championship pedigree on show in Boston as Bucks take 3-2 series lead
The Milwaukee Bucks showed why they’re the defending NBA champions on Wednesday night, showing resilience and nous to narrowly beat the Boston Celtics 110-107 in Game 5.
The Bucks came back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to lead in the final few minutes, needing some magical moments of defensive skill from star guard Jrue Holiday to clinch the win and take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Having just taken their first lead since the second quarter with just seconds remaining, Holiday first blocked Marcus Smart from behind, causing a turnover which earned his team possession. Then, as time ticked away, he stole the ball from Smart again to seal the result and ensure the Bucks can wrap up the series at Game 6 in Milwaukee on Friday.
Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 11 rebounds, while Holiday added 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the winning effort.