Kings for a day: Warriors play drearily, but top Grizzlies Game 4

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr tested positive for coronavirus. So, Warriors assistant Mike Brown – just hired as the Kings’ new head coach – acted as Golden State’s head coach in Game 4 Monday.

Well, the Warriors… committed 10 turnovers in the first 16 minutes… missed their first 15 3-pointers… fell behind the Ja Morantless Grizzlies by 12 in the fourth quarter.

“I felt like we got traded to the Kings overnight,” Stephen Curry said on TNT.

Curry found an ironic solution for breaking the hellish funk. He switched into purple shoes then rallied Golden State to a 101-98 victory.

Actually in the playoffs, the Warriors definitely aren’t the Kings. In fact, Golden State now leads its second-round series 3-1 entering Game 5 Wednesday.

Curry began Game 4 in shoes honoring the late Craig Sager, but never got in a groove. So, the Golden State star went to purple footwear in the fourth quarter.

From the moment he re-entered the game with different shoes with 8:37 left until Dillon Brooks released a meaningless heave at the buzzer, Curry singlehandedly outscored Memphis, 18-15.

Curry finished with 32 points, eight assists and one big emotional release after Draymond Green blocked Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s game-tying 3-point attempt with 12 seconds left:

The Warriors mostly hurt themselves with sloppy protection of the ball and defensive miscues. But Memphis added a degree of difficulty by returning to starting center Steven Adams, who lost his rotation spot in the first round then missed the start of this series due to the NBA’s coronavirus protocols. The hulking big man helped the Grizzlies wall off the paint, and – justifying Memphis’ strategy – Golden State was ice cold from the perimeter.

The Grizzlies weren’t sharp, either, in this ugly game. Brooks (12 points on 5-of-19 shooting* with eight assists, four turnovers and five fouls) was particularly destructive with his overly ambitious jumpers. In his first game back from suspension for a cheap shot on Warriors guard Gary Payton II, Brooks got frequently booed by Golden State fans – though not nearly as harshly as expected.

This game lacked juice until very late. The Warriors didn’t lead until the final minute, though it always felt like they’d eventually seize control. Despite going 20-5 without him in the regular season, Memphis just isn’t as imposing without Morant.

The Grizzlies are running out of time for him to return. Teams that entered a best-of-seven series without home-court advantage then lead 3-1 entering a road Game 5 – like Golden State does – have won the series 89% of the time, though just 27% of Game 5s.

So, maybe Memphis can win a home Game 5 Wednesday. But history favors the Warriors advancing by Game 6.

*That includes Brooks’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer with the result already decided. When the game was still up for grabs, Desmond Bane made a more-impressive heave to end the third quarter: