What we learned as Warriors have no answer for Ja, drop Game 2


MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Warriors began the Western Conference semifinals on the road for the first time since 2013, and head home to San Francisco bruised, bloody and begging for ice packs. They also left FedExForum with a series split and a serious injury concern.

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole went ice-cold from long distance, and the Warriors' offense struggled all night long while also giving away countless costly turnovers. Andrew Wiggins battled on the boards and was the only Warriors starter with a positive plus-minus as Golden State gave away a 106-101 loss, tying the series at one win apiece. 

Grizzlies star Ja Morant was amazing again, this time completely putting the Grizzlies on his back offensively. The star point guard scored 47 points, along with adding eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals. 

Curry scored 27 points but his shot was way off, along with the rest of his supporting cast.

Both teams should be more than happy that this series doesn't continue until Saturday at Chase Center. They can use all the rest they can get.

Here are three takeaways from the second round being all evened up after two games in Memphis.

Dirty vs. Physical

Steve Kerr predicted the Grizzlies would try to flex their muscle even more in Game 2, predicting this would be the most physical game of the season. There was no way he could know that within the first three minutes of the game, it would reach unthinkable heights and cross the line into dirty play. 

If there was one Grizzlies player who would take on that role, it was Dillon Brooks. He did just that, ending his night early with an ejection and Gary Payton II's night to a left-elbow injury. As Payton flew for a dunk, Brooks essentially hit him across the head with a clothesline from behind, sending Payton crashing to the floor with his left elbow taking the brunt of the pain. 

Brooks was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul, and Kerr was irate with the Oregon product, yelling "That's bulls--t, Dillon!" He wasn't wrong, and he wasn't alone as several Warriors couldn't contain their frustration. 

After undergoing X-rays in the locker room, Payton was ruled out for the rest of the game. 

The next time down the floor, Draymond Green was hit with an inadvertent elbow from Xavier Tillman Sr., and then went face-first to the hardwood. He had to go to the locker room, was given stitches to his right eye for a laceration and later returned with essentially one eye open. 

That was a physical play, not an intentional one by Tillman. It's hard to say the same about Brooks. 

"That wasn't physical, that was dirty," Kerr said of Brooks' Flagrant 2 foul when talking to the TNT broadcast. 

3-Point, Turnover Trouble

Two stats essentially tell the whole story for the Warriors' ugly night far from home. They shot 18.4 percent (7-for-38) from 3-point range and turned the ball over 18 times. That's not exactly a winning formula.

Curry went 3-for-11 from 3-point range, Thompson was 2-for-12 and Poole was 1-for-6. The trio combined to shoot 6-for-29 from long distance. 

The Warriors had 60 points in the paint, which was 18 more than the Grizzlies. They also out-rebounded them by five, but the above issues were just too much. 

Turnovers have long been an issue for the Warriors, and they threw far too many careless passes. Don't bet on them shooting this bad in Game 3 or beyond, though.

Rookie Impact

Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga played 14 minutes off the bench, scoring nine points with five rebounds. He also took a clutch charge as well. We're reminded daily, but it's just hard to fathom he's still only 19 years old. 

The Warriors' playoff experience will play a large role in the rest of this series against the young Grizzlies. Kuminga also clearly has a role, and there isn't another Warriors player who makes such an impactful spark off the bench for the Warriors.

But he wasn't the only rookie who had a big night. 

Stanford product Ziaire Williams was ruled out for Game 1, but returned for Game 2 and the Grizzlies clearly missed him. The 6-foot-8 wing scored 14 points in 28 minutes as a reserve, finishing as Memphis' second-leading scorer. He also snatched five rebounds and made four 3-pointers, just one fewer than the Splash Brothers combined to make. 

The combination of youth and experience in this semifinals series will be fascinating to watch with each game played.

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