Basketball

NBA playoffs daily results: Grizzlies once again rally past Wolves


Game 6: Grizzlies 114, Timberwolves 106 | Grizzlies win series 4-2

Who was the guy? Brandon Clarke. Yes, Desmond Bane was once again a problem for the Minnesota Timberwolves to try to corral, but Clarke’s play fueled the Memphis Grizzlies off the bench. He had 16 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots in 33 minutes. The Grizzlies were plus-9 with him on the floor. His activity proved to be too much for the Wolves in this series and in the closeout game. He was quicker to the ball. His athleticism was overwhelming. Without Clarke cleaning things up for the Grizzlies and making plays, their fate would’ve come down to Game 7.

What was the key here? The Wolves’ stars didn’t step up. In a game in which Dillon Brooks went through a big shooting slump and fouled out. In a game in which Ja Morant struggled to make a shot. In a game in which the Grizzlies turned the ball over 19 times and gave up 20 points off those turnovers. The Wolves just needed Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell to step up. Russell had seven points on seven shot attempts with four assists and four turnovers. Towns had 18 points on just 6-of-19 from the field. His 11 rebounds and five assists were good, but they needed him to make shots. That was enough to surrender another second-half double-digit lead and let Memphis pull this one out.

Key stat: 17 offensive rebounds. The Wolves just couldn’t clear the defensive glass. Clarke had five of those off the bench, with three of them coming in the fourth quarter. Even when the Wolves got a timely stop, it felt like the Grizzlies just had more effort and force in grabbing the rebound to keep the possession alive. The Grizzlies had 23 second-chance points because of it.

The moment it was over: The Grizzlies answered the Wolves twice in the closing minutes. Down the stretch, the Grizzlies had two big moments to answer back against the Wolves. After exchanging some missed 3-pointers with about two minutes left and the Grizzlies up four, Jaden McDaniels had another massive bucket for the Wolves on his way to 24 points off the bench. His 3-pointer with 1:34 left in the game cut the lead down to one. Then Tyus Jones hit a shot clock buzzer-beating 3-pointer to answer and push it back to four.

After that, the Wolves got a quick bucket out of a timeout by Jordan McLaughlin to cut it to two points. With 36 seconds left, Jaren Jackson Jr. answered with a dunk off a pass from Clarke. Answering each time kept the Wolves in a two-possession game they never got out from under.

The moment of the game: Jones knocked down the 3-pointer with 1:09 left in the game. Jones is from Minneapolis. He played for the Wolves before finding his way to Memphis. To make that shot at the end of the shot clock with the Grizzlies up one in his hometown was huge. Morant found him at the last second, and he knocked it down. If he misses that, the Wolves could’ve taken control of that moment. Instead, the Grizzlies got a much-needed cushion.

What’s next for the Wolves’ offseason? Bring back Taurean Prince, who will be a free agent this summer. The Wolves also need to find another big wing who can make some plays on both ends of the floor. They had a great step forward this season, but barring an enormous leap by Anthony Edwards that puts him in the top 25 of players, they’re going to need to add some more dynamic depth.

How do we think the Grizzlies will do against the Warriors in the second round? I’ll tell you this: If the Grizzlies play as undisciplined and mediocre as they did far too often in this series against Minnesota, Golden State will run them out of the gym. The Grizzlies did not play intelligent basketball in this opening-round series. Maybe it’s jitters playing with expectations for the first time, but they kind of got away with a lot in this series. That won’t fly against the Warriors. If they play to the level of their competition, the Grizzlies will have a real chance. If they replicate this decision-making from Round 1, it might be over before they know it.

(Photo: Brad Rempel / USA Today)





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