The Memphis Grizzlies are heading to the Western Conference semifinals after a 114-106 Game 6 road win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. Surprise, surprise -- the Grizzlies' victory once again came in comeback fashion, erasing a 13-point lead and outscoring the Timberwolves 40-22 in the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies move on to face the No. 3-seeded Golden State Warriors, with their second-round series beginning on Sunday in Memphis.
"It was ugly but we battled through, battled back, got the win," Grizzlies guard Ja Morant said after the game. "But we've gotta be better next round. We can't come out playing how we did in this series right here."
Morant struggled for most of the night but still finished with a near triple-double of 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane paced Memphis on the offensive end, combining for 46 points, 10 rebounds and three assists on 10-for-15 3-point shooting to help lead the Grizzlies to victory.
On the other side, Anthony Edwards continued to show why he is one of the league's brightest young stars with 30 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, but it simply wasn't enough down the stretch. Karl-Anthony Towns managed to stay out of foul trouble but went just 6-for-19 from the field en route to 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
Here are four takeaways from the game and the series, along with a recap of our live updates.
1. Comeback kids ... again
You could feel the nervousness from the Target Center crowd through the TV as the Grizzlies cut the Wolves' lead from 10 to four in less than a minute to start the fourth quarter. That's because Minnesota had seen this before. The Grizzlies erased double-digit Wolves leads in four of the six games this series, including an epic 26-point comeback in Game 3. It's hard to put your finger on the exact reason, but the Grizzlies executed on both ends for the majority of the series once they fell behind.
"Coach preaches it day in and day out. We've got a lot of dogs on this team -- guys who wanna prove stuff, got chips on our shoulders," Morant said after the Game 6 win. "We've just got that never-satisfied mindset, and we know the game is not over until the zeroes hit at the end of the fourth"
That type of poise will serve them well in next round's matchup against the Warriors, who have a penchant for quick, devastating scoring runs to build big leads. Already having a handful of postseason comeback wins under their belt should help keep the Grizzlies confident if they find themselves down by double-digits again.
2. Bane of the Wolves' existence
Morant certainly controlled the offense and took over at times, but the Grizzlies don't win this series without the outstanding performance of Bane. He went 5-for-9 from 3-point range on Friday, which made him 27-for-56 (48 percent) in the series, and he led the team with 23.5 points per game. Not only did he makes shots, but he made BIG shots. Bane played over 43 minutes in the Game 6 win, and was a plus-22 for the night -- no other Memphis player was better than plus-10.
Bane's cold-blooded, pump-fake 3-pointer with just over three minutes left in the game gave the Grizzlies a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
There was a lot of talk entering the postseason about who the "second guy" on the Grizzlies would be, and Bane proved in the first round that he's more than capable of filling that role. At times, you could even say he was the first guy.
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3. Rough night for KAT
While Morant failed to find a rhythm for most of the night, he was able to turn it on late with six points and four assists in the fourth quarter. The same could not be said for the Timberwolves' All-Star, however, as Towns scored just three points on 1-for-5 shooting in the final frame. He took just three shots and didn't score a point in the final eight minutes of the game.
Perhaps frustrated, Towns took two horrendous shots late in the game, including this ill-advised 27-foot 3-pointer early in the clock with just over two minutes left.
Towns had an up-and-down series with some real bright spots, but he was unable to come through when his team needed him the most on Friday night.
The Wolves ended up losing, but for much of the night it appeared that the duo leading them to victory would be bench players Jaden McDaniels and Jordan McLaughlin. McDaniels caught fire early and finished with a career-high 24 points on 5-for-6 3-point shooting. He went on a personal 7-0 run to help build the Wolves' lead to nine with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.
Then there was McLaughlin, who finished with nine points, five rebounds and four assists on 4-of-5 shooting, collecting basically all of his stats in the second half. He ran the offense so well that Finch decided to put him back in the game for good, substituting for starter D'Angelo Russell with just under five minutes left to play.
McDaniels is just 21 years old and McLaughlin is 26, so it looks like the Wolves have a couple of excellent young players who have proven they can perform on the brightest stage.