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Los Angeles (AFP) – Ja Morant, Memphis’ “Spider-Man,” sickened Golden State with 47 points, to allow the Grizzlies to tie a win-all in their Western Conference semifinals, Boston having done the same in the East , with authority against Milwaukee, Tuesday in the NBA play-offs.
It was an exceptional performance that Morant achieved (also 8 rebounds, 8 assists), unaffected, two days after his missed double-step which cost his team the victory. This time, he wove webs in all directions and hit the mark each time in money-time, in traffic and behind the arc, scoring his team’s last 15 points in the last four minutes.
“I thought a lot about this loss and the fact that I had missed the decisive action. Today, this victory was needed. I took it upon myself to get it. A team like Golden State is not never out of it, we had to keep our foot on the accelerator and play hard for the 48 minutes”, commented the phenomenon, simply elusive.
And it took this unleashing of hell to bend the Warriors who were worthy of their nickname (106-101).
Because their evening started like an ordeal. Gary Payton II suffered a broken left elbow after a dangerous foul by Dillon Brooks, immediately sent off, before Draymond Green had stitches placed in his right eyelid. All after just four minutes of play.
“It was dirty”
“I don’t know if it was intentional but it was dirty. Basketball in the play-offs is supposed to be physical, everyone fights. But there is a code in this league that players follow and that you never jeopardize a guy’s career by hitting him in the air, with a club on the head, and ending up breaking his elbow. Dillon Brooks broke that code,” Steve Kerr said after the match.
Affected, his players struggled like Stephen Curry (27 pts, 9 rebounds, 8 assists), but they sinned by clumsiness at long distance (18.4%), the “splash brothers” Curry / Klay Thompson /Jordan Poole doing small “splash” (6/29 between them).
In the East, 48 hours after being overwhelmed by the power of Milwaukee at TD Garden (101-89), Boston managed to reverse the balance of power (109-86), carried by its “Jay-Jay”, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, author of 49 points between them.
A response resulting first of all from an effective defensive adjustment, to annoy Giannis Antetokounmpo as much as possible and limit his offensive impact.
It worked wonderfully during the first period, since the “Greek Freak” (the Greek monster) returned to the locker room with only 5 points in the bag, weighed down by a starving 2/12 on shots. And Boston to count 25 units ahead (65-40), match already folded.
In the third quarter, Giannis was able to get his muscles out (18 pts) to still finish with 28 points (11/27, 9 rebounds, 7 assists). A reaction of pride all the more futile as he was the only one to show it, Jrue Holiday not having really weighed (19 pts at 7/20, 7 assists).
Being a deterrent matters, especially when you can afford it without your best defender, Marcus Smart, hit in the thigh, but you also have to be effective on the mark.
On this level, Jaylen Brown, disappointing or even transparent on Sunday, responded in the best way. It was under his leadership — in fusion, he scored 25 of his 30 points in the first period, with a stunning 9/10 — that the C’s put the Bucks on their feet.
“In the first game, we received a slap, but tonight it was we who gave the first blow and we won”, he coldly summed up, after Jayson Tatum (29 pts, 8 assists) perfectly took over in the last two quarters, Grant Williams (21 pts including 6/9 at long distance) making a non-negligible contribution off the bench.
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