The Memphis Grizzlies seem to have the Warriors’ number. After knocking them out of the postseason in the play-in game last year, the Grizzlies (3-2) returned to Chase Center and shocked Golden State (4-1) with a comeback, 104-101 victory on Thursday. Hey, at least this shot was pretty cool right?
Aside from that, here are a few takeaways:
Warriors blew it
The Warriors’ first loss of the season was a bizarre one, blowing a 19-point lead to the team that dashed their playoff hopes last season. Adding to the shock was Golden State’s incredible start to the game, where they looked much more spry than a Memphis team coming off the back-end of a back-to-back at the conclusion of their road trip.
After taking a 17-point lead in the first quarter, Golden State lost the remaining three and overtime period, due in large part to their 23 turnovers, many of which were unforced. Jordan Poole (6), Stephen Curry (5) and Draymond Green (5) were the main culprits. Green had perhaps the most egregious one down the stretch, getting called for an uncontested eight-second violation with the game tied and less than a minute remaining.
The Warriors turnovers led to seven extra Grizzlies shots, more than enough to be the difference in a one-possession game.
Turnovers have been a consistent issue for the Warriors for all of Steve Kerr’s tenure. In the championship years, Golden State was largely able to overcome them thanks to their talent, with a few unfortunate counterexamples. The Warriors look like they have a chance to be championship caliber again, but they are not there yet. Until they are, throwing the ball away at such an extreme rate will be a tipping point.
No Steph in the fourth quarter
It’s hard to fault Stephen Curry for any part of this loss, considering he scored 41 points (36 in the first half) and that the Warriors were -15 when he wasn’t on the floor. Yet, it’s fair to say that the Grizzlies did an excellent job not allowing Curry to get into a rhythm late.
Continuing a strange trend, Curry did not score in the fourth quarter for the third straight game. He was also unable to get a bucket in overtime. The Grizzlies blitzed Curry, frequently doubling and sometimes triple-teaming him in the half court off of screens. It’s a strategy that’s not without consequences. The Warriors were able to get open looks consistently with one or two passes off the Curry action, or find open looks off the ball with the defense focused on the two-time MVP.
But the Warriors are not the offensive juggernaut they used to be, especially without Klay Thompson. For Golden State to win in games where Curry is compromised, the likes of Damion Lee, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Andre Iguodala have to carry the scoring and shooting load down the stretch.
Lee was awesome picking up the slack, hitting three huge 3-pointers down the stretch and in overtime. Jordan Poole (9 points) Iguodala (2 points) and Wiggins (4 points in the fourth quarter and overtime) didn’t provide nearly enough.
Ja Morant turns things around, then closes the door
The Grizzlies looked well on their way to getting blown out on Thursday, entering the second quarter down 37-20.
Their young star helped turn things around from that point on. Morant scored 23 points in the next 19 minutes, and finished with 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Morant did so while hitting just two three pointers, one of which was a huge 30-footer to give Memphis the lead with 3:57 left in the game.
Morant also had the game-deciding shot, an incredible driving layup with 57.9 to give Memphis a three-point lead.
Morant is a bonafide superstar at this point, and showed the crowd at Chase Center why on Thursday night.