LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Ja Morant scored a team-high 35 points as the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Golden State Warriors, 117-112, in overtime on Friday to close out the play-in tournament and grab the final seed in the NBA playoffs.
Morant helped clinched the winner-take-all victory with a spinning floater from 10 feet with four seconds left in overtime as the Grizzlies advanced to the playoffs for the first time in four years. The Warriors were eliminated from the postseason.
“That’s the shots I want to take,” said Morant who also had a career high five threes. “I like it when the pressure is on me. I lift my game. I got all the confidence in the world in my game.”
The youthful Grizzlies won two straight games in the play-in tournament to earn the eighth seed and will now face the top seeded Utah Jazz in the first game of their series on Sunday in Salt Lake City.
This was the second meeting between the two teams in six days as the 2020 rookie of the year Morant rebounded from a poor performance in a 113-101 loss to the Warriors in the final game of the regular season.
With the 21-year-old Morant leading the way, the Grizzlies are the youngest NBA team in the postseason in a decade.
Curry had a game-high 39 points, Andrew Wiggins had 22 points, and Draymond Green finished with a triple double of 11 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for Golden State, which trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half.
“We would have loved to go into playoffs and tried to make run,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “Obviously it is a crushing way to go out, two straight games both gut punches.
“We felt like we had control the other night and lost, and we didn’t have control of this one, but could have won.”
Dillon Brooks scored 14 points, Grayson Allen finished with 12 and Tillman tallied 11 for Memphis.
Morant said they hope to carry the confidence over from this win into the next series.
“It is going to be a fight. They are the best team in league and we got to lock in on our game plan,” said Morant.