Ja Morant celebrates Memphis’ Game 2, series-evening win over Golden State. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)
Terry Davis

The goals were simple heading into Game 2 of the semi-final battle between the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors: Memphis wanted to be more physical; the Warriors wanted to rely on their championship pedigree.

For Memphis, the goal was attained as the Grizzlies grabbed the victory 106-101 to even the series at (1-1).

Dillon Brooks was ruled to have committed a flagrant 2 foul against Golden State’s Gary Payton II on this encounter at the basket. Payton suffered a fractured elbow and Brooks, who was ejected, faces the possibility of even more punishment by the NBA. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

The Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks was ejected three minutes into the game. He went for a block on Gary Payton II and tried to block it, but he hit Payton in the head.  After an official review, it was deemed a flagrant 2 and an automatic ejection.

Payton suffered an elbow injury that renders him unavailable for the remainder of the semi-final series, with only a whisker of a chance of him returning to help Golden State should they get past the Grizzlies, win the Western Conference final and earn the right to challenge the Eastern Conference champ for the NBA title.

Ahead of Game 3 in San Francisco, the NBA is weighing whether Brooks warrants more punishment.

Ja Morant’s monster effort propelled Memphis to the win. He scored 47 points, including the last 15 for the Grizzlies. Memphis’ All-Star point guard tied his own playoff franchise scoring record with his 47 points.

In the fourth quarter, Ja Morant took over for the Grizzlies. He was fouled on this play by Draymond Green of Golden State as Stephen Curry of the Warriors helplessly looked on. (Photos: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

“Definitely big time. Definitely up there,” said Morant about where the performance ranks in his career.

“I felt this was kind of a must-win game for us. For me, I was frustrated with myself for missing that layup in Game 1. I had some friendly words with Steph (Curry). After Game 1, he came to me and Jaren (Jackson Jr.) and said, ‘This is going to be a battle. We’re going to have some fun.’ 

“I was able to return that message tonight saying the same thing. I always say, this is my favorite matchup. Playing against a guy like him with great talent. It’s going to be a battle.”

Brandon Clarke: “I’ve just got to find ways to be more active. Just got to find that energy even when it’s kind of tough to find. There (were) a couple plays when I was able to get the board, and I lost it, which I can’t have happen. I don’t really need the ball to make plays. There’s a bunch of stuff I can do. I’m just there to do whatever it takes to win the game.” (Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke (10 points, 3 rebounds) was asked about the team maintaining physicality.

“Just staying true to our game plan and playing our game,” he said.

“There’s going to be nights where there’s more than other nights. So, it’s just playing your game really; not really changing anything. Just trying to find ways to win when the fourth quarter comes.”

So, it’s on to the Chase Center on Saturday for Game 3, which is set for tipoff at 7:30 p.m. CDT. The game can be seen on ABC.

Zaire Williams (left) and Kyle Anderson of the Grizzlies battle Damian Lee of Golden State for the loose ball. Said Williams about defending the Warriors: “You have to be locked in. For me, it’s just locking into the game plan and staying locked in; staying active on the floor.” (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Xavier Tillman Sr. (7 points, 6 rebounds) applies defensive pressure against Stephen Curry. Regarding his Game 2 performance, Tillman said, “On his performance tonight:
“Definitely better. I felt like I was more free. I learned from my mistakes and then I just saw my instincts take over; try not to repeat the same mistakes. Definitely better for sure. I will say today was probably like a B-plus.” (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. rejects Draymond Green’s shot. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Ja Morant eyes his next move against the defensive pinch of Golden State’s big 3: Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

Ja Morant dunks on Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Regarding what’s on his mind when he has to make a play, Morant said, “Go get a bucket. Pretty much that.” (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)

With the 106-101 victory secured, Memphis’ faithful go wild in FedExForum. (Photo: Warren Roseborough/The New Tri-State Defender)