MEMPHIS — Desmond Bane was hobbled. Dillon Brooks was ejected.
Ja Morant put the Memphis Grizzlies on his back.
The All-Star point guard took over with 18 fourth-quarter points, including the Grizzlies’ final 15, and matched his playoff career high with 47. His last field goal came with the Memphis Grizzlies up by one point. He attacked the rim with fearlessness and finished over the raised arms of Golden State defenders.
Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson traveled on the next possession and Morant put the game away to the tune of MVP chants on Tuesday night at FedExForum.
The Grizzlies defeated the Warriors 106-101 to tie the Western Conference semifinal series 1-1. Game 3 is set for Saturday in San Francisco.
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Morant’s historic performance puts him in rarified air. He joins LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as the only players to have multiple 45-point playoff games before turning 23 years old.
Here are three key observations from Game 3:
Live and survive by the 3-pointer
The Grizzlies ranked 23rd in the NBA with 32.7 3-point attempts per game in the regular season. They surpassed that total through three quarters Tuesday.
Part of Golden State’s plan was to make the Grizzlies shoot and limit their paint opportunities. Memphis shot 16-of-40 on 3-pointers in Game 1. The efficiency wasn’t the same, but Memphis got big makes when they needed them Tuesday. The Grizzlies shot 14-of-45 on 3-pointers.
Ziaire Williams missed the past two games due to right knee soreness. The Grizzlies trailed by three when he made two big fourth quarter 3-pointers to give them an 86-83 lead. Williams finished with 14 points and four made 3-pointers. Morant led the Grizzlies with five 3-pointers.
The Grizzlies also held the Warriors to 7-for-38 3-point shooting. Stephen Curry led Golden State with 27 points, but he made just 3-of-11 3-pointers. This was encouraging for the Grizzlies after Brooks left the game. The Warriors’ 18.4% shooting from 3-point range was their lowest in franchise history in a game where they attempted 25 or more 3-pointers.
Both teams started Game 2 with the same lineups as Game 1, but that only mattered for three minutes.
With 9:08 left in the first quarter, Brooks took a hard swipe across Gary Payton II’s head and was ejected with a flagrant floul-2. Payton hit the floor hard and injured his elbow. Warriors coach Steve Kerr talked before the game about expecting the Grizzlies to be more physical, but he took exception to that play by screaming at Grizzlies players as they walked back to their bench.
The Grizzlies lost one of their best wing defenders, and Payton — one of Golden State’s best perimeter defenders — missed the rest of the game.
Jordan Poole started the second half for the Warriors, and Williams started the third quarter in place of Brooks for the Grizzlies.
Jaren Jackson Jr. fouled out with 3:59 left in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies were down two. Jackson finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Desmond Bane is not 100%
Desmond Bane was listed as questionable with lower back soreness.
He didn’t play with his same burst and couldn’t create as much separation for his shots. Bane took a charge on Otto Porter Jr. with 6:33 left in the second quarter. After the play, Bane laid on the floor for a few seconds before getting up and walking gingerly to the bench.
Bane went scoreless in the second half but showed signs of life when he scored five points and grabbed three rebounds in the third quarter.
Follow Damichael Cole on Twitter @DamichaelC.