You can’t write the narratives of sport. A Jordan Poole game-winner with one second on the clock has lifted the Golden State Warriors to a much needed 122-120 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in a pulsating game at Chase Center on Wednesday night.
With 1:14 left on the clock, Poole’s ill-advised three-point attempt off an offensive rebound caused Stephen Curry to throw his mouthguard in anger — he was immediately ejected from the contest with 34 points next to his name.
Returning to Curry and the locker room with a loss would have been rough for Jordan Poole, but the fourth-year guard redeemed himself in a game-winning layup for the Golden State Warriors.
The teams went back and forth after the Curry ejection — Memphis quickly tied the game at 116, before Draymond Green split the teams when he went 1-for-2 at the free-throw line with 30 seconds left. Morant responded with two made free-throws, but Klay Thompson hit a clutch three to regain the Warrior advantage.
Brandon Clarke tied the game again with 6.2 seconds to play, and Thompson’s initial attempt missed only for Memphis to tip the ball out of bounds and remain with Golden State. That allowed Donte DiVincenzo to find a cutting Poole for the layup and the win.
The Warriors had four team fouls in the opening two minutes, including two on Curry. By nine minutes into the contest, each of Curry, Poole and Thompson had two each. The Grizzlies failed to take full advantage though with Morant opening 2-for-6 from three-throw line.
Neither team managed to find a rhythm in a sloppy first period. Thompson led the Warriors with seven points but took nine shots to do, but alas the hosts took held a two-point lead at 24-22 after 12 minutes.
Golden State began the second with three-straight turnovers, indicative of a worsening capacity to maintain control of possession. They had 13 turnovers in 19 minutes, yet somehow maintained a lead behind the Grizzlies’ poor three-point shooting. Morant started cooking towards the end of the half though, and another acrobatic layup with 2.4 seconds to play gave them a 54-53 lead.
Jonathan Kuminga, starting in the absence of a sick Andrew Wiggins, produced a poster dunk on Desmond Bane to catapult a 7-0 Warrior run to start the third. Yet after that six-point lead, Golden State’s defensive effort capitulated amid a surging Grizzlies’ offense. The visitors had 24 points in the opening six minutes of the quarter, and although Curry’s 11-point period briefly tied the game at 85, 42 third-quarter points from Memphis helped them to a 96-90 lead after three.
Any Warrior threat was quickly snuffed out early in the fourth, with Memphis extending the lead to ten with six minutes to play. A Curry-led surge finally regained Golden State’s momentum as the reigning champions went on a 17-4 run before the frantic final two minutes that had to be seen to be believed.
The Warriors’ guard trio combined for 79 points on 11-for-24 shooting from three-point range — Curry came alive after early foul trouble, Thompson drilled five threes including the important one in the final minute, and Poole’s 21 points finished in the best way possible.
Kuminga was a major factor in the first three periods, recording 13 points, two rebounds and four assists in another impressive display. Green till typical Draymond things with eight points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.
Their 21 turnovers threatened to be their undoing again, but Golden State shot 50.6% from the field and 43.8% from three to pull out the win. Could it prove a defining moment in their season? They’ll sure hope so as they prepare for a matchup against the Toronto Raptors at Chase on Friday night.