2022 Playoffs: West Semifinal | Grizzlies (2) vs. Warriors (3)

5 takeaways from Grizzlies' blowout win vs. Warriors in Game 5

Memphis showcases its depth and resolve to prevail in a dominant Game 5 victory against Golden State to extend the series.

Game recap: Grizzlies 134, Warriors 95 (Golden State leads series, 3-2)

• Complete Grizzlies-Warriors series coverage

MEMPHIS – Five takeaways from the Memphis Grizzlies’ 134-95 blowout victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 Wednesday at FedEx Forum to avoid elimination. The Grizzlies still trail 3-2 in their Western Conference semifinals series but forced Game 6 Friday night in San Francisco.

1. That 20-5 mark without Morant was no joke

The Grizzlies’ record this season in games when their dynamic point guard, Ja Morant, was hurt or otherwise absent was 20-5. That’s a startling number for an All-Star player seemingly so vital to his team’s attack and swagger, and it undoubtedly is one reason Morant didn’t fare better in the Kia Most Valuable Player balloting released Wednesday. (He finished seventh with one fourth-place vote and seven fifth-place votes for 10 points — the winner, Denver’s Nikola Jokic again, got 875 points.)

Still, that was in the regular season, when Memphis was randomly playing teams of varying quality, focus and effort. Facing one of the NBA’s most talented and savvy playoff teams, with about two weeks of game-planning and adjustments baked in, and the Grizzlies facing elimination? That was supposed to be much different.

Where does this series stand heading back to San Francisco for Game 6?

So naturally the Morant-less squad lays a whomping on the Warriors, leading by as much as 55 points, while Morant himself — likely out for the postseason, per the team — enjoyed every minute near the bench, standing much of the game in his sweater, cargo pants and bling (it’s still called bling, right?).

Was this a distillation of all those other nights when Morant wasn’t around to carry the load?

“To use our players’ phrase, ‘We deep,’” said Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins. “We’re deep. It’s as simple as that. We say that not arrogantly, we say that confidently. Anybody who steps out on the floor can make an impact for us.”

The Grizzlies were a legit 10-deep in this one, with seven players scoring in double-digits. Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Banes and Tyus Jones each scored 21, more than anybody on the Warriors side.

2. Warriors barely came out and play-ayed

That little headline applies both figuratively and literally. Golden State got throttled wire-to-wire. It skulked into the locker room at halftime trailing 77-50, then roared back for the third quarter … to get outscored 42-17.

The literal part was that Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson nearly had the night off, as playoff work loads normally go. They all were in the 25-minute range, which figures to be helpful for the flight to the Bay Area and another game in 48 hours. Acting coach Mike Brown didn’t dazzle in his second consecutive stint subbing for Steve Kerr (Health and Safety Protocols) but he did at least spread more than half the game’s minutes on the bench.

Super-sized garbage time made that possible.

“It was awful,” Thompson said. “It was embarrassing.”

How will Golden State respond to its Game 5 shellacking?

Things got so bad that Curry and Green were yanked at 6:44 of the third quarter, which allowed them to enjoy the raucous “Whoop Dat Trick” anthem played on such joyous nights at FedEx Forum. Both Warriors smile, danced a little, and Green waved a towel around as the arena pulsed with that Al Kapone beat early in the fourth quarter.

Said Green: “I appreciated the crowd tonight and the energy they brought to the game. And if they want to whoop that trick, we’re going to whoop him together.”

By the way, that was precisely the right time for Brown to shut things down. Memphis already had 97 points when Curry and Green exited with nearly 19 minutes remaining, more points than the Warriors would get all game.

3. And the award for most impressive stat goes to …

There were gaudy and/or revealing numbers all over the box score in Game 5. And just to filter out the stuff amassed by deep reserves, we’ll stick to the stats as they appeared after three quarters. By that point, the Grizzlies had the outcome on ice, 119-67.

Some notable ones:

  • Memphis’ 46-25 edge in rebounding. It was the first time in the series the Grizzlies won that category.
  • Its 17 offensive boards to Golden State’s three at that point. Those earned the Grizzlies a 24-0 advantage in second-chance points.
  • The home team’s 50% accuracy from the arc through three quarters (17 of 34).
  • Memphis’ 33 assists on 41 buckets with only five turnovers through those 36 minutes, compared to the Warriors’ 17, 24 and 20.
  • Yikes, those 20 turnovers fueled 29 points for Memphis, with a quarter to spare.

Here, though, is our favorite stat:

  • Through three quarters, Golden State had gotten up 57 field-goal attempts. The Grizzlies, by that point, had put up 80. Nobody’s beating an opponent that gets that many more scoring chances.

4. Keeping up with this Jones

Tyus Jones often gets referred to as the “best backup point guard in the NBA.” And that’s nice, in a backhanded compliment kind of way. It doesn’t mean, however, that there are 30 better point guards than the seventh-year veteran.

And for the Grizzlies’ purposes, here and now, there are a bunch of starters around the league for whom they wouldn’t think of trading Jones.

Think about the pressure, the spotlight, the obligation on Jones, being flipped the keys abruptly with Morant getting hurt in the middle of a playoff series. It wound up being no biggie.

Tyus Jones came through with a 21-point, 9-assist showing in Game 5.

“It’s been going on since December,” teammate Desmond Bane said of Jones, “Ja’s obviously a great player but y’know, I think we won 20 of those [missed] games. We beat good teams. So this isn’t a surprise. Maybe it’s a surprise to the national media because we haven’t played on a big stage. But Tyus is doing what Tyus do.”

Said Jaren Jackson Jr., seated between Bane and Jones at the postgame podium: “Resume speaks for itself. It’s been a while [that Jones has been doing this].”

Something folks might not know is that Jones has led the NBA in assists-to-turnover ratio for fourth consecutive seasons. In this rout, he had nine of the former and zero of the latter.

“Just doing what I’ve been doing all year, honestly,” said the No. 24 pick from the 2015 draft (Minnesota). “Coach, the guys tell me to be me. Lead. And so I go out there and play with confidence.”

Jones finds his shots, makes his teammates better and takes care of the ball, with only occasional ooh or aah moments compared to Morant’s steady diet of such.

“I don’t go out there and try to be ’12,’” Jones said, referring to Morant’s jersey number. “Do what he does. He’s 1 of 1. … I can’t fill 12’s shoes by myself. Everyone has to step up a little bit more. At the same time, I know a lot of it is on my plate. I’ve got to be prepared. It’s what I work for.”

5. Memphis has a shot

This was the sort of games both teams quickly flushed from their memory banks. The Warriors were eager and able to rid themselves of the stench, it was so one-sided. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are back for more than a night in a performance that, however complete at both ends, with urgency and energy, still has them trailing in the best-of-seven series.

Kerr isn’t expected back on his team’s sideline at Chase Center for Game 6 on Friday (10 ET, ESPN). That means Brown again will fill in, with a chance to silence some of the snarky stuff that broke out on social media Wednesday (generally comments about his job with the Sacramento Kings and how fitting this outcome was). The Warriors will be a little concerned till then about Andre Iguodala (still sidelined with a disc problem) and Otto Porter Jr. (who exited Game 5 with a sore right foot).

The Grizzlies will face the same situation that summoned so much focus and verve this time. So maybe that’s a positive.

“Game 6 is an elimination game,” Jenkins said.

Worked well once.

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Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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