Game 4 between the Warriors and Grizzlies was not exactly what you’d call beautiful basketball, as the two teams failed to crack the 25 percent mark from three-point range on 71 combined attempts.
The Warriors missed their first 15 three-pointers, as they came out flat against a Memphis team playing without Ja Morant, looking to prove their 20-5 record during the regular season without their All-Star guard was no fluke. They certainly proved their mettle on the defensive end with an incredible effort (and some help from the Warriors lackluster shooting), holding Golden State to 40 percent shooting (24.3 percent from deep), and forcing 16 turnovers which fueled their early run to the lead.
Jaren Jackson Jr. led the charge on both ends of the floor, with 21 points and five blocked shots, as he had the Warriors shook in the paint with his help at the rim.
Despite Memphis’ swarming defensive start, they couldn’t ever pull away from Golden State, who played a terrific defensive game themselves. The Grizzlies shot 41.1 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from three, as only Steven Adams (5-of-9 for 10 points) and Kyle Anderson (7-of-8 for 17 points) were able to cross 50 percent shooting. A big reason for Memphis’ offensive woes was Dillon Brooks, who was making his return from a Game 3 suspension and seemed overly desperate to make an impact on the Morant-less offense, scoring just 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting (1-of-8 from three), including some woeful shot choices down the stretch.
The best run of the night for Memphis came in the fourth quarter, when Jackson and Tyus Jones, who had 19 points as he took over the starting point guard role, led them to a double-digit advantage and, briefly, it seemed they had taken control of the game.
However, from that point, the Memphis offense went cold and the Warriors started to finally find some life from three-point range, with Otto Porter doing the job in the third to keep them intact and then Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson hit timely shots in the fourth to cut the lead to one.
The Memphis lead would stay in the one possession range for the final few minutes until, finally, the Warriors broke through to take a one-point advantage on a pair of Stephen Curry free throws with 45 seconds to play. From there, Jackson Jr. missed a pretty good look at a floater and Curry sold some contact from Desmond Bane on the putback to earn two more free throws to put Golden State up three. After a quick two from Brooks, Curry hit two more free throws to go back up three and the Grizzlies chose not to call their timeout to draw up a game-tying play. The result was rather disastrous, as Jackson Jr. rushed a three in traffic and got blocked by Draymond Green.
From there, it was more Curry free throws and, rather hilariously, a banked in Brooks three at the buzzer to make the final score 101-98. Curry finished with 32 points but needed 25 shots to get there, going just 4-of-14 from three. Klay Thompson likewise struggled from deep, going 0-for-7, as he had 14 points on 20 shots, but the lift off the bench from Otto Porter Jr. (12 points) and Andrew Wiggins putting up 17 points proved big for the Warriors on what Curry called a “historically bad shooting night.”
The Grizzlies will have to feel deflated having lost this game given the tremendous defensive effort they put forth to control the game for 47 minutes, but their inability to create good looks on offense proved too costly, headlined by Brooks’ awful night. They’ll now head back to Memphis for a must-win Game 5, with Morant’s status still in the air, and the Warriors feeling like they dodged a bullet (and likely getting jolted awake in the process).