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Warriors hang around in physical game, but too much Ja Morant wins it for Grizzlies

Stephen Curry was 3-of-11 from 3. Klay Thompson was 2-of-12 from deep and seemed off, not just missing shots but missing them badly. The Warriors as a whole shot 18.4% from three in Game 2 in the face of a physical and intense Grizzlies defense.

Yet the Warriors were hanging around and hanging around, even coming back to lead in the final two minutes.

But the Grizzlies had Ja Morant.

Morant took over late, scoring the Grizzlies’ final 15 points in a dramatic 106-101 Game 2 win. He scored every Memphis point over the final 4:16 of the game, both hitting body-contorting layups in the lane and draining 3s.

The series is now tied 1-1, heading to the Bay Area for Game 3 on Friday night.

Morant wanted to make up for missing a game-winning layup at the end of Game 1.

“That loss was on my mind a lot, obviously missing that layup late,” Morant said, via the Associated Press. “But coming into today, I told myself we needed a win, and we were going to get a win. I just took it upon myself to go out there and do that for us.”

Morant scored 44 of his points after his primary defender, Gary Payton II, left the game with a fractured elbow following a flagrant foul from Dillon Brooks. Payton was racing for a transition layup when Brooks wound up, swung for the block and instead hit Payton in the head. Brooks was ejected for the foul, which after the game Warriors coach Steve Kerr called “dirty.”

Payton stayed in the game, took the free throws, and then went back to the locker room to get his elbow X-rayed. After the game, it was announced Payton has a fractured elbow, and while there is no timeline yet for his return, it will likely be measured in weeks.

Payton’s injury — and a blow to Draymond Green’s face — were just some of the signs of a stepped-up physicality from the Grizzlies. Steve Kerr said the Warriors knew it was coming, yet it threw Golden State off its game.

Offensively the Warriors were just off in Game 2. Curry finished with 27 points on 11-of-25 shooting but he and Thompson were a combined 5-of-24 from 3. Jordan Poole, who had 31 points in Game 1, was 1-of-6 from 3. Andrew Wiggins was 1-of-7 from 3. The Warriors turned the ball over on 18% of their possession and had a 101 offensive rating.

With all that, the Grizzlies should have blown the Warriors out, but Golden State just hung around all night. Memphis couldn’t put them away — something concerning for Grizzlies fans. The Warriors will not shoot like this again, they will not be thrown off their games as easily, and they are heading home to the Chase Center.

Golden State is going to get better. Memphis will need more than just a big Ja Morant game to take a game in San Francisco.