SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — That kind of playoff victory is three years in the making for Clay Thompson, who has endured countless hours of rehab and heartache to get to the point again.
And after another stunning shooting performance on the big stage, coach Mike Brown just wanted to give a congratulatory hug.
Instead, Thompson told Brown how much he will miss next season when the Browns take over the Sacramento Kings – but they still have a lot of basketball together.
Thompson knocked out eight three-pointers en route to 30 points, Stephen Curry scored 29 points by six 3 seconds, and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Memphis Grizzlies with a 110-96 victory in Game Six on Friday night.
A trip to the Western Conference Finals is next, and coach Steve Kerr should be healthy from his encounter with COVID-19.
“Honestly, especially the view I’ve gained from the injuries I’ve had, to now be able to compete at the highest level and be one of the last four teams, it’s a feeling that’s hard to describe honestly,” Thompson said. “It’s really amazing and it inspires me to keep going because I think we still have great basketball ahead.”
Curry found his late shot touch and made two straight baskets to lead 78-77 in the last 12 minutes. Draymond Green contributed 14 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. Kevin Looney returned to the starting lineup and picked up 22 rebounds while Andrew Wiggins scored 10 of 18 points in fourth with a pair of 3 seconds in time.
It was Carrie and Greene who got Looney to start after the Warriors discussed her aboard the return flight from Memphis after Wednesday’s embarrassing defeat.
Golden State — brought home by Memphis in a play-in tournament last year — withstood a test series to advance to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2019, when the franchise reached its fifth consecutive NBA Finals before losing to Toronto.
The Warriors will face the third-seeded winner, Phoenix Dallas, in the conference finals. The seventh game in that series is Sunday in Phoenix.
Thompson is back to shine in qualifying after a two-and-a-half year absence with serious injuries, first recovering from surgery to rupture the ACL in his left knee and then surgery to rupture his right Achilles tendon.
“This is Clay,” Brown said. “We expect him to get out there and play great.”
“whoop that trick!” The raucous, cheerful crowd cheered at the last moments, the crowd roaring from Memphis.
“It was nice to see the fans embracing that,” Green said.
Dillon Brooks scored 30 points with his seven best three-pointers, but made his second blatant foul of the series. Added Desmond Ben 25.
Curry returned to the final 8:21 and threw 3 with 5:45 remaining from a beautiful rebound pass by Green. Looney found Green for an easy dunk next, capping a 10-0 decisive run.
Brooks considered the challenge of taking on the Splash Brothers was something that would only make Memphis better.
“They know we’ll come every year,” he said. “We’re young, they’re getting older so they know we come every year.”
After Wednesday’s 134-95 debacle on the Grizzlies’ home floor in which he trailed by as many as 55, the Warriors were determined to do everything better, especially cutting 22 turns that led to 29 points.
The Warriors beat the Grizzlies 70-44, becoming the first team to have 70 rebounds in a playoff since San Antonio scored a 75 against Denver on May 4, 1983.
Bane scored the first two baskets of the game before the Warriors topped 10 consecutive points, with a pair of throws by Green and 3 each by Curry and Thompson.
Looney started after Jonathan Kominga had played the previous three matches after injury as second goalkeeper Gary Payton. He broke his left elbow in an embarrassing fall after being hit on the head by Brooks in Game 2, earning Brooks a Flagrant 2 foul and a game one suspension.
He was booed loudly again at every opportunity by the selling crowd at Chase Center. When Payton was shown on the big screen during the first quarter timeout, he received a standing ovation and touched his hand in his heart before encouraging them to raise their voice.
Memphis played again without All-Star goalkeeper Ja Morant, who missed his third game in a row with a bone bruise in his irritating right knee that the Grizzlies blamed on Jordan Bull who pulled a knee while going for a loose ball in Game 3.
“Ja is one of the best point guards in this league, so you know it’s definitely going to change,” Brooks said. “But we did what we had.”
Thompson shot 11 for 22 – 8 of 14 from long range – and netted his fourth game eight seconds after the start of the season to equal Ray Allen, Carey and Damien Lillard for most of NBA history.
“We took a two-year hiatus from the playoffs, mostly because of his absence,” Green said.
Grizzlies: Brooks earned a blatant three points and finished one from an automatic one-game suspension. …Memphis missed the last ten picks of the second quarter. … Grizzlies had 55-37 bouncing advantage in game 5.
Warriors: Curry was 6 for 17 deep. … Looney’s 11 rebounds in the first quarter were their highest in any quarter. … was F Otto Porter Jr. He came out with a sore right foot. … Veteran Andre Iguodala, who is still absent due to a left cervical disc injury, is set to be re-evaluated again later next week.
Friday the 13th
The Warriors had played a playoff Friday the 13th for only the second time in franchise history, previously when they beat the Bucks 100-86 on April 13, 1973, in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals to win the series 4-2, according to Elias.