LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The Memphis Grizzlies erased a 26-point deficit to stun the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-95, on Thursday and take a 2-1 lead in their NBA playoff series.
Down 26 points in the second quarter and 25 with 3:10 left in the third, the Grizzlies held their nerve in Minneapolis, outscoring the Timberwolves, 37-12, in the fourth quarter to match the fourth-largest comeback in NBA playoff history.
“It’s an emotional victory ˗ coming from being down a lot,” said Desmond Bane, who led the Grizzlies with 26 points.
But he cautioned that there was still a lot of work to do in the best-of-seven Western Conference series.
“We’ve got to keep our heads,” Bane said. “It’s first to four.”
Elsewhere the Golden State Warriors were closing in on those four needed victories, taking a 3-0 stranglehold on their series with a 118-113 victory over the Nuggets in Denver.
In Salt Lake City, the Dallas Mavericks weathered a late surge from the Utah Jazz for a 126-118 victory that gave the Mavs a 2-1 series lead.
But the Grizzlies produced the most astonishing result of the night.
Brandon Clarke scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for Memphis.
Ja Morant connected on just five of 18 shots from the field but put together a triple-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for Memphis, who used a 21-0 fourth-quarter scoring run to turn the tables on the T-wolves.
Minnesota led 47-21 with 10:28 left in the second quarter when the Grizzlies mounted their first charge, trimming the deficit to seven points at halftime.
In Denver, Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole scored 27 points each and Klay Thompson added 26 as the Warriors withstood a Nuggets team led by NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic’s 37 points and 18 rebounds.
Draymond Green came up with a big steal with 34.7 seconds remaining and Golden State closed the game on a 9-2 run. They can finish the series with a win in Denver on Sunday.
It was a bitter defeat for the Nuggets, who took a 111-109 lead on a layup by Jokic with 3:20 left.
Golden State clamped down defensively and the Nuggets went six straight possessions without a basket as the Warriors seized control.
– Mavs hold off Jazz –
The Mavericks held off the Jazz despite again playing without injured star Luka Doncic, who has missed all three games of the series with a calf strain but appears set to return for game four.
Jalen Brunson shook off a sore back to score 31 points for Dallas.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 10 of his 20 in the fourth quarter and Maxi Kleber added 17.
Donovan Mitchell scored 28 of his 32 points in the second half for Utah, who cut the deficit to one point on Mike Conley’s three-pointer with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get in front.
“The most important thing was sticking together,” said Brunson, who appeared to hurt his back in the second quarter after Royce O’Neale collided with him. “When they had their runs, we didn’t fold.”