USA TODAY International Edition

Thompson says closeout game will be ‘ hardest one’

- Evan Barnes

SAN FRANCISCO – Champions have multiple lives. Even when they’re old and not as sharp, they know how to survive as much as win.

The Golden State Warriors winning 101- 98 on Monday at Chase Center was about survival. Holding on against a younger Memphis Grizzlies team slowing the tempo without injured NBA AllStar point guard Ja Morant. Yet the Warriors, who didn’t lead until 45.7 seconds remaining, showed their experience matching it with execution.

Now they’re in another familiar spot trying to close a team out while leading the series 3- 1. Game 5 on Wednesday ( 9: 30 p. m. EDT, TNT) won’t be easy either, but after winning 20 playoff series since 2013, the Warriors know what awaits them at FedExForum.

“Wednesday’s going to be the hardest one yet,” guard Klay Thompson said. “It always is. The closeout.”

It might not get as ugly as it did Monday. The Warriors missed their first 15 3- point attempts. Thompson missed all seven of his and shot 6for- 20 overall. Otto Porter Jr. made as many 3- pointers as Stephen Curry ( four).

The Warriors didn’t make a field goal for the final 3: 25 of regulation. Yet they pushed past a valiant Grizzlies team that exhausted their clip but misfired on their final bullets. The Warriors outscored them 11- 5 in the final 2: 32 where Curry and Jordan Poole led a free throw parade and Dillon Brooks’ last- second 3- pointer was only meaningful to shrink the final margin.

For Mike Brown, coaching in place of Steve Kerr who tested positive for the coronaviru­s, it was simple. The Warriors had Thompson, Curry and Draymond Green, a trio used to finishing games. Add in Poole’s rising profile and there’s trust they’ll find a way even when Memphis had them on the ropes.

“A lot of it has to do with the playoff experience that these guys have, but their talent and IQ, in my opinion, is second- to- none,” Brown said.

That’s been the difference this series. The Grizzlies are learning how to manage the playoff ebb and flow. With Morant’s availabili­ty for the rest of the playoffs doubtful, they’re down their biggest weapon.

The Warriors? They know the course and have mastered it. Even if Game 5 brings a fiery road crowd and a desperate opponent, it’s a challenge they’re well versed in.

After handling a close Game 4, there’s more confidence in what they know as much as what they have on the court. The Grizzlies are still learning that. Meanwhile, the Warriors are on the verge of a sixth conference finals trip in eight years.

“We know how to pull off games like this, whether it happens or not. It’s just about how you approach it, and we made that happen,” Curry said.

 ?? JOE RONDONE/ THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL ?? Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane defends Warriors guard Klay Thompson during Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals series Monday.
JOE RONDONE/ THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane defends Warriors guard Klay Thompson during Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals series Monday.

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