May 16, 2015 12:17 AM
Warriors advance to Western final, beating Memphis 108-95
The Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Stephen Curry practices tough shots every day. The MVP came up with a third-quarter buzzer-beater his coach calls the play of the game.
For Golden State, rank it among the Warriors' best shots in decades and it helped put them in their first Western Conference finals since 1976.
Curry scored 32 points with that 62-footer among eight 3-pointers, and the Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies a third straight game, 108-95 on Friday night.
"In a close-out game like that, that's a big turning point and the moment's magnified," said Curry, the NBA's MVP. "I made one in college like that. That's the last I made anywhere past half court and same kind of shot: Loose ball, grab it, throw it up and knock it down."
First-year coach Steve Kerr called this a beautiful team win and a big moment for the Warriors. He said Curry was amazing, especially with that shot as the Grizzlies tried to make a run in the third quarter.
"It wasn't quite a close-out shot, but it was the play of the game," Kerr said.
The Warriors advanced with some of the best shooting in the NBA postseason since 1985, becoming the first team since that year to hit 14 or more 3s in three consecutive playoff games. Curry was 8 of 13 from beyond the arc as the Warriors knocked down their playoff-best 15 3-pointers.
Curry, who had 10 assists for his first double-double this postseason, hit the shot of the night after Andre Iguodala blocked Jeff Green's shot near midcourt. Curry grabbed the loose ball and beat the buzzer from the Grizzlies' 3-point line for a 76-68 lead.
Klay Thompson had 20 points for Golden State and Draymond Green added 16, Harrison Barnes 13 and Shaun Livingston 10.
Memphis coach Dave Joerger said he hadn't seen the replay of Curry's shot. Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said he thought Green was fouled and that his teammates stopped playing, waiting for the call and then Curry threw up the shot.
"It was tough to realize and kind of grasp it all in the same time," Conley said.
The Warriors will play the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-Houston Rockets series in the conference finals. That series will start Tuesday night at Golden State. Curry says the opponent does not matter.
"We'll obviously be watching on Sunday to figure it out," Curry said of the Clippers-Rockets Game 7. "I feel like if we do what we're supposed to do in the next round, we'll be all right."
Marc Gasol led Memphis with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Vince Carter added 16 off the bench, Zach Randolph had 15, Courtney Lee 12 and Conley 11.
Curry finished the series with 25 3-pointers, one more than the Grizzlies managed as a team. When he beat the buzzer with that long 3, he celebrated by bumping chests with Iguodala and David Lee. He then added 11 points in the fourth quarter to finish off the Grizzlies.
"It's just one of those special moments," Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said of Curry. "He's a special kind of guy. They make those kind of shots."
That stellar shooting helped the Warriors win a second series in the same postseason for the first time since capturing the title in 1975, and they never trailed in this game.
The Warriors outshot, outrebounded and simply did everything better than Memphis early, looking like the team that dominated the NBA regular season. Golden State led 32-19 by the end of the first quarter and Memphis had one more field goal (7) than the Warriors had 3-pointers (6). The Splash Brothers outscored the Grizzlies by themselves combining for 22 points.
But Curry and Thompson got plenty of help with teammates taking turns knocking down shots.
"I think what you see with their team is I think that they really grew up," Joerger said. "They really grew through the battle of this series and matured to the point where I think that will help them, unfortunately, in the future being able to take the hits that they took and the physicality that I think we are known for."
Memphis tried to rally, opening the third quarter with a 13-5 spurt with two free throws by Green pulling the Grizzlies within 63-62 with 3:59 left. Green hit a jumper to get them within 65-64 before the Warriors finished the quarter on an 11-4 run capped by Curry's amazing 3. Memphis got within eight with 6:03 left and got no closer as Curry knocked down consecutive 3s.
Warriors: Curry had been 0 for 32, 0 of 3 in the playoffs, on shots from the backcourt before his 62-footer. ... They are 13-7 all-time in Game 6s and improved to 9-2 in their last 11. ... They are 54-5 this season and postseason combined when making at least 10 3-pointers, including 7-0 these playoffs.
Grizzlies: Allen, who had 24 steals in his first nine playoff games, tried to play with the injured left hamstring that kept him out of Game 5. But he played only 5 minutes before going to the bench for the night, unable to move effectively. ... Memphis had only three turnovers, the fewest ever in a playoff game against Golden State. The Lakers had six on March 31, 1969, against Golden State. ... Memphis is 4-2 all-time in Game 6s, losing its last two.
The Grizzlies played a video tribute and held a moment of silence before the national anthem in memory of musician B.B. King, who died late Thursday at the age of 89. King got his nickname early in his career playing live in Memphis as the "Beale Street Blues Boy," which later was shortened to B.B.