Curry, Morant enjoying challenge of battling in West semis

May 3, 2022, 1:03 PM | Updated: May 4, 2022, 1:06 am
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant reacts after scoring during the second half of Game 2 of the team...

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant reacts after scoring during the second half of Game 2 of the team's second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 106-101. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Stephen Curry had a message for Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. after the Golden State Warriors took Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Prepare to have some fun in this series.

Morant countered in a big way in Game 2. He also made sure to get in Curry’s ear after tying the best-of-seven playoff at one apiece.

“I was able to return that message … saying the same thing,” Morant said after equaling his postseason high with 47 points in Memphis’ 106-101 win Tuesday night. “I always say, this is my favorite matchup playing against a guy like him, a great talent. Yeah, it’s going to be a battle.”

Curry and Morant have been dueling going back to last year’s play-in game. Morant and Memphis won on Curry’s home court to clinch the eighth seed. Starting with that game, only one of seven meetings have been decided by double digits.

And the two-time NBA scoring champion didn’t play in that 123-95 rout by Memphis on March 28 to take the season series 3-1.

In this semifinal, Morant has outscored Curry in each game. The NBA’s Most Improved Player missed a layup at the end of Game 1 in a 117-116 loss that ate at Morant until he got back on the court Tuesday night.

Morant scored 14 points in the first quarter. But he was at his absolute best in the fourth despite taking a shot to his left eye going for a rebound late in the third period — it even took him a few minutes to see well enough to get back on the floor.

The Grizzlies trailed 89-86 when Morant got started. He converted a three-point play after being fouled by Draymond Green to tie it with 6:11 left. Brandon Clarke added two free throws and then Morant took over, scoring the last 15 points for the Grizzlies over the final 4:16.

The dynamic guard shot 6 of 11 in the fourth, including 1 of 3 outside the arc. He also made all five free throws, scoring 18 of Memphis’ 29 points. Morant was the only Grizzlies starter on the floor during a personal 15-6 run he reeled off while surrounded by reserves, with Jackson fouled out, Dillon Brooks ejected and Desmond Bane dealing with a sore back.

Xavier Tillman Sr. had one thought about how his teammate finished the game.

“Mama there goes that man,” Tillman said. “He’s a bucket. Yeah, he’s a bucket for sure. Especially in the clutch time, like he knows how to get to where he wants to be. As a defender, I don’t know what they think in their head, but it’s hard to stop him for sure.”

The Warriors lost Gary Payton II to a broken left elbow early in the game. He started to help defend Morant, and Green said they just need to “guard him better.”

Golden State also needs to shoot better. The Warriors were 7 of 38 from 3-point range, with Curry and Klay Thompson combining to go 5 for 23. Curry said they’ll be ready for the next round of this prize fight after feeling they let one slip away. Game 3 is Saturday night in San Francisco.

“It’s going to be a long three days with that feeling, but we understand what we need to do and how we need to play and the things we need to focus on, and commit to that come Saturday,” Curry said.


More AP NBA coverage: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bump & Stacy Show


Baltimore Orioles' Jorge Mateo hits a double during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the...
Associated Press

Mateo slugs Orioles past White Sox for 4th straight win

CHICAGO (AP) — Jorge Mateo homered and doubled to lead the Orioles over the Chicago White Sox 6-2 Saturday, giving Baltimore its first four-game winning streak this season. Lance Lynn (1-1) retired eight straight batters before Mateo lifted a solo homer just over the left-center fence to put Baltimore ahead in the third. Baltimore coughed […]
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Sydney McLaughlin does it again, breaks own world record

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Olympic champion Sydney McLaughlin bested her own world record in the 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. outdoor track and field championships Saturday. McLaughlin flashed a broad smile when her time was announced, then gave a thumbs-up. She crossed the finish line in 51.41 seconds, breaking her own record of 51.46 set […]
16 hours ago
St. Louis Cardinals' Ivan Herrera watches his sacrifice fly to score Edmundo Sosa during the eighth...
Associated Press

Herrera’s 8th inning sac fly helps Cardinals beat Cubs 5-3

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Iván Herrera hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning for his first career RBI and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3 Saturday. Juan Yepez lined a one-out double to the left field wall off Cubs reliever Mark Leiter Jr. (1-2) in the eighth, and pinch-runner Edmundo […]
16 hours ago
In Gee Chun, of South Korea, left, looks for her ball in the rough on the 16th hole during the thir...
Associated Press

Chun shoots 75, lead down to 3 at Women’s PGA Championship

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — This was the moment the rest of the field needed: In Gee Chun standing near the trees, contemplating her situation and then eventually heading back to the point of her previous shot. A shaky third round cut her lead at the Women’s PGA Championship in half. Chun shot a 3-over 75 […]
16 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays' Isaac Paredes celebrates after hitting a two-run winning single to defeat the Pitts...
Associated Press

Paredes hits 2-run single as Rays rally past Pirates 6-5

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Isaac Paredes hit a solo homer in the eighth inning and a two-run single with two outs in the ninth, sending the Tampa Bay Rays to a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday. Ji-Man Choi and Vidal Bruján reached on two-out walks before Jonathan Aranda’s pinch-hit single loaded the […]
16 hours ago
Justin Ress of the United States listens to his national anthem after winning the men's 50m backstr...
Associated Press

US swimmer Ress endures elation, shock, relief at worlds

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Elation, devastation, relief and shock. United States swimmer Justin Ress went through all the emotions after winning his first individual gold medal on the last day of racing at the world swimming championships on Saturday. As quick as he won the men’s 50-meter backstroke final — 24.12 seconds — it seemed […]
16 hours ago
Curry, Morant enjoying challenge of battling in West semis