NBA: Morant shines as Grizzlies oust Warriors to grab play-off eighth seed

Ja Morant (12) and forward Dillon Brooks (24) celebrate against the Golden State Warriors during overtime at Chase Center, San Francisco, on May 21, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Ja Morant scored a team-high 35 points as the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Golden State Warriors 117-112 in overtime on Friday (May 21) to close out the play-in tournament and grab the final seed in the National Basketball Association (NBA) play-offs.

Morant helped clinched the winner-take-all victory with a spinning floater from 10 feet with four seconds left in overtime as the Grizzlies advanced to the play-offs for the first time in four years.

The Warriors were eliminated from the postseason.

"That's the shots I want to take," said Morant who also had a career-high five threes.

"I like it when the pressure is on me. I lift my game. I got all the confidence in the world in my game."

The youthful Grizzlies won two straight games in the play-in tournament to earn the eighth seed and will now face the top seeded Utah Jazz in the first game of their series on Sunday in Salt Lake City.

This was the second meeting between the two teams in six days as the 2020 rookie of the year Morant rebounded from a poor performance in a 113-101 loss to the Warriors in the final game of the regular season.

With the 21-year-old Morant leading the way, the Grizzlies are the youngest NBA team in the postseason in a decade.

"We know we are a young team. We have some vets that lead us," said Morant.

"It is my first time making the play-offs, but we got some players who have been in play-offs before. They let us know what to expect."

Xavier Tillman nailed a go-ahead three pointer with 87 seconds left in overtime to make it 110-109 and then Morant iced it with two short jump shots in the final minute.

The Warriors ended the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the league then lost a heartbreaker 103-100 to the Lakers on Wednesday followed by another gut-wrenching loss to the Grizzlies.

"We were two fourth quarters from being the seventh or eight seed," said Curry, who is in the running for league Most Valuable Player.

"It is frustrating that this is the end and this is how we are going out.

"It is a very tough way to end it, coming down to the wire and us giving everything we had in the tank."

Curry had a game-high 39 points, Andrew Wiggins had 22 points, and Draymond Green finished with a triple double of 11 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for Golden State, which trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half.

"We would have loved to go into play-offs and tried to make run," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

"Obviously it is a crushing way to go out, two straight games both gut punches.

"We felt like we had control the other night and lost, and we didn't have control of this one, but could have won."

Dillon Brooks scored 14 points, Grayson Allen finished with 12 and Tillman tallied 11 for Memphis.

Morant said they hope to carry the confidence over from this win into the next series.

"It is going to be a fight. They are the best team in league and we got to lock in on our game plan," he said.

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