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Golden State smashes hobbled Memphis to take series lead

Jordan Poole and the Golden State Warriors romped on Saturday night in San Francisco.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Stephen Curry scored 30 points, Klay Thompson had 21 and nine rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors shut down Ja Morant’s supporting cast to embarrass the Memphis Grizzlies, 142-112, on Saturday night for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Morant’s 3 just before the halftime buzzer got the Grizzlies to 64-57 at the break and gave him 17 of his 34 points after a 47-point performance in Game 2. But Morant couldn’t do it alone for Memphis, and he was done after rubbing his tender right knee and limping off with 6:19 to play before heading to the locker room.

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Still bothered by Dillon Brooks’ hard foul in Game 2 that sidelined Gary Payton II, Draymond Green and Golden State kept cool from the opening tip — methodically running away with it. Instead, Memphis forward Kyle Anderson got ejected with 6:19 left for arguing an offensive foul.

Brooks was suspended for his Flagrant 2 foul in the first quarter Tuesday when he pounded the head of a driving Payton, who landed awkwardly and fractured his left elbow. He will be sidelined indefinitely, also with ligament and muscle damage.

Coach Steve Kerr said the play was “dirty” and broke an NBA “code” injuring someone and threatening his career, while Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins and his Grizzlies players defended their hard-nosed style as not dirty at all.

Brooks will be back for Game 4 on Monday night at Chase Center, where the raucous sellout crowd included two women holding signs of Payton’s face insisting the Warriors “Win it for Gary.”

Golden State did so with a balanced attack and energy on both ends after Green called for the offense to do more to better the defense.

Jordan Poole scored 27 points off the bench and Andrew Wiggins added 17 points for Golden State, which used a 10-0 run out of halftime to take command for good.

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Rookie Jonathan Kuminga provided a spark starting in Payton’s place, while Ziare Williams was in for Brooks.

Curry missed his initial two shots, then scored his first points of the game by making a big 3 with 0.9 left in the first as the Warriors trailed, 28-26.

Morant hit a 31-foot 3-pointer midway through the first and Williams dunked shortly after for a 21-8 lead, and Memphis made 6 of 9 shots to start the game. But the Grizzlies went cold and made only 3 of the next 12 and watched the Warriors close the quarter with an 18-7 burst.

Thompson shot 8 for 13 with four 3-pointers in a solid shooting night.

He had been 11 for 38 from the floor, including 5 of 22 on 3-pointers, so far in the series before finding a better groove. Kerr figured it would happen soon enough.

“Klay has been in a little bit of a rush. He’s trying too hard to get himself going and he just needs to be a little more patient,” Kerr said. “He’s had some good looks, but he’s also forced some others. He hasn’t really gotten into a good rhythm, so that’s hopefully something we can accomplish tonight.”

Joel Embiid’s return changes the dynamic of series with Heat

Joel Embiid’s final line in the box score Friday looked a bit pedestrian compared to his usual MVP numbers. But the Philadelphia 76ers center played Game 3 anyway. With a thumb that needs a surgery. With a broken face. And just days after suffering a concussion.

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His mere presence in the lineup changed the 76ers’ fortunes, and perhaps their chances against Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 76ers are not only alive, but Embiid is well enough to make them 2-point favorites in Sunday’s Game 4, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

“Down 2-0, I had to do really everything possible to be out there, no matter how I was feeling,” Embiid said.

Embiid tightened the 76ers’ defense and helped open the lane for Tyrese Maxey and the outside for Danny Green. Both players scored 21 points and showed how everyone on the Sixers benefits with Embiid in the lineup. Embiid is playing with a mask for the forseeable future because of a right orbital fracture; during breaks in action, he constantly lifted the mask and wiped sweat off his face.

But with the season at stake, Embiid knows how vital he is to a 76ers' championship run. He had 18 points and 11 rebounds on 5-of-12 shooting from the floor in 36 minutes.

“I didn’t think I had a lot of energy, honestly,” he said. “I was really trying to really get through it. Kind of, you just use my presence out there as a decoy. I feel like I pride myself really defensively. And I feel like that’s where my presence is really felt. On the defensive end. So that’s one of the main reasons why playing, I thought I could have a huge impact.”

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Embiid’s return after sitting out the first two games only added to Miami’s misery. The Heat missed 23 of 30 3-point attempts, were outrebounded, and had only two players in double-digit scoring.

“He’s been like that for his entire career, but that’s not really the reason why we lost that game,” guard Jimmy Butler said. “We didn’t get back, we turned the ball over, we didn’t get stops, we fouled. There was a lot that went into that, but he is a big part of it.”

On Saturday, the 76ers were fined $50,000 by the NBA for violating league injury reporting rules in failing to disclose Embiid’s participation status in an accurate and timely manner.

Big breakthrough for Dallas against Phoenix

The Heat had some company when it came to dropping Game 3 on the road. Luka Doncic had 26 points and 13 rebounds and helped the Dallas Mavericks get back in their series against the Phoenix Suns with a victory.

The Dallas superstar had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and the Mavericks turned up the defensive pressure to get back in their Western Conference semifinal series with Phoenix. The Mavericks spoiled Chris Paul’s 37th birthday, forcing the 17-year pro into his most turnovers in any half of a playoff game with seven before the break.

Dallas cut the Suns’ series lead to 2-1 and ended an 11-game losing streak against Phoenix, regular season included. Game 4 is Sunday in Dallas.

“Energy, man,” Doncic said of the best Dallas defensive showing of the series. “The crowd gets you going. The energy and the execution were better. That’s what we’ve got to do every game.”

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Paul didn’t have any more turnovers after halftime, but the Suns finally struggled with their shooting when they weren’t turning it over. Phoenix shot 45 percent, ending a run of at least 50 percent shooting in the playoffs at eight games.

“It felt like all seven of ‘em were back to back to back,” said Paul, whose career high for a game in the playoffs is eight turnovers. “If I don’t turn the ball over like that I feel like it’s a different game.”

Jae Crowder scored 19 for Phoenix, but the Mavericks limited the impact of Devin Booker in much the same way they did Paul. Booker scored 18 but was just 2 of 7 inside the 3-point line, and Paul had 12 on just nine shots (five made) in the Suns’ lowest-scoring game of the season.

Doncic just missed a triple-double with nine assists, while Jalen Brunson led Dallas with 28 points after struggling in the two losses in Phoenix when Doncic averaged 40 points but didn’t get enough help.

“I found a way to bounce back tonight,” Brunson said. “I just can’t be satisfied with this. Sunday’s going to be another brutal game. I have to bring the same energy, the same intensity, the same everything.”