SAN FRANCISCO (AP) That kind of playoff triumph lasts three years for Klay Thompson, who endured countless hours of rehabilitation and heartache to reach that point again.
And after another spectacular shooting performance on the big stage, coach Mike Brown just wanted to offer a congratulatory hug.
Instead, Thompson told Brown how much he will miss him next season when Brown takes over the Sacramento Kings — but they still have a lot of basketball together.
Thompson knocked down eight 3-pointers on the way to 30 points, Stephen Curry scored 29 with six 3s and the Warriors eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies with a 110-96 victory in Game 6 on Friday night.
A trip to the Western Conference Finals is next, and coach Steve Kerr is expected to be healthy after his battle with COVID-19.
“Honestly, especially the perspective I’ve gained through the injuries I’ve had, to now be able to compete at the highest level and be one of the final four teams, it’s a feeling that’s hard to describe honestly,” he said. Thompson said. “It’s really amazing and it just inspires me to keep going because I think we still have some great basketball ahead of me.”
Curry found his shooting touch late and made two consecutive baskets for a 78-77 lead in the final 12 minutes. Draymond Green contributed 14 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. Kevon Looney returned to the starting lineup and grabbed 22 rebounds while Andrew Wiggins scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth with a timely pair of 3s.
It was Curry and Green who pushed for Looney to start after the Warriors discussed it on the flight home from Memphis after Wednesday’s embarrassing loss.
Golden State — sent home by Memphis in last year’s qualifying tournament — weathered a grueling streak to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2019, when the franchise reached its fifth straight final of the NBA before losing to Toronto.
The third-seeded Warriors will face the winner of Phoenix-Dallas in the Conference Finals. Game 7 of this series will take place on Sunday in Phoenix.
Thompson is back bright in the playoffs after his 2½-year absence with a pair of serious injuries, recovering first from surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee, then surgery for a torn of the right Achilles tendon.
“It’s Klay. He expects to go out there and play well,” Brown said. “We expect him to go out there and play really well.”
“Cut that thing!” the delighted and boisterous home crowd chanted in the final moments, flying the fans away from Memphis.
“It was good to see the fans accepting that,” Green said.
Dillon Brooks scored 30 points with a career-high seven 3-pointers but picked up his second flagrant foul of the series. Desmond Bane added 25.
Curry came back for the final 8:21 and delivered a 3 with 5:45 remaining on a nice bouncing pass from Green. Looney found Green for an easy dunk next time out, capping a 10-0 decisive run.
Brooks saw the challenge of taking on the Splash Brothers as something that would only make Memphis better.
“They know we’re going to 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 court in which they trailed by as much as 55 points, the Warriors were determined to do everything better, especially reducing the 22 turnovers leading to 29 points.
The Warriors outscored the Grizzlies 70-44, becoming the first team to grab 70 rebounds in a playoff game since San Antonio had 75 against Denver on May 4, 1983.
Bane scored the game’s first two baskets before the Warriors went 10 straight, with a pair of layups from Green and a 3 from Curry and Thompson.
Looney started after Jonathan Kuminga played the previous three games after guard Gary Payton II was injured. He broke his left elbow in a clumsy fall after being hit in the head by Brooks in game 2, earning Brooks a flagrant foul 2 and a one-game suspension.
He was again loudly booed at every opportunity by the sold-out Chase Center crowd. When Payton was shown on the big screen during a first quarter timeout, he received a cheering ovation and held his heart out before encouraging them to make more noise.
Memphis again played without All-Star guard Ja Morant, who missed his third straight game with an embarrassing bone bruise in his right knee that the Grizzlies blamed on Jordan Poole pulling on the knee as he searched for a loose ball in game 3.
“Ja is one of the best point guards in this league, so you know that obviously would change,” Brooks said. “But we made do with what we had.”
Thompson shot 11 for 22 — 8 of 14 from long range — and notched his fourth career postseason game with eight 3s to tie Ray Allen, Curry and Damian Lillard for most in NBA history.
“We’ve been on a two-year hiatus since the playoffs and mostly because of his absence,” Green said.
Grizzlies: Brooks had three blatant runs and finished one following an automatic one-game suspension. … Memphis missed its last 10 shots in the second quarter. … The Grizzlies held a 55-37 rebounding advantage in Game 5.
Warriors: Curry was 6 of 17 from deep. … Looney’s 11 rebounds in the first quarter were a career high for any quarter. … F Otto Porter Jr. was out with pain in his right foot. … Veteran Andre Iguodala, still sidelined with a left cervical disc injury, is expected to be reevaluated again later next week.
The Warriors played in a Friday the 13th playoff game 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 Conference Semifinals. West to win the series 4-2, according to Elias.
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