The Warriors’ offense on Friday night was absolutely spectacular. They were moving the ball, not turning it over and converting time and time again mostly inside the 3-point line. In short, they looked like an offensive machine against Memphis — for three quarters.
And then, it all just stopped. Just like that.
The Grizzlies rallied from a 24-point second-half deficit and from 19 down to start the fourth quarter and beat the Warriors 128-119 in overtime. Golden State completely bogged down, scoring just 13 points in the fourth quarter on 2-for-13 shooting from the field. In overtime, the Warriors were 3-for-9 from the field with two turnovers.
In the last 2:30 of regulation and overtime, the Warriors went just 1-for-10 from 3-point range, with the lone make coming from Draymond Green. Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 40 points, but he missed his last four shots and didn’t score in overtime.
Bottom line is it all came apart for Golden State. This is a team with three bona-fide scorers and yet it has struggled mightily down the stretch of close games. The Warriors are still 31-6, but they’ve lost to San Antonio, Cleveland, Houston and now Memphis twice. This was the second game in two weeks in which the Warriors blew a fourth-quarter lead. They led Cleveland by 14 points with nine minutes left on Christmas Day before losing 109-108.
During several possessions late in regulation and overtime, the Warriors didn’t seem to really run any offense, instead wishing on Curry, Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson to make something happen. They never did.
–Perhaps the most telling possession came with the Warriors up two late, when Curry gave the ball up the Durant at the top of the court. Durant milked the shot clock for the entire possession, then took a contested 3-pointer which missed. Memphis rebounded and scored to tie the game 111-111 with seven seconds left.
Green was upset on that possession, later saying he wanted the Warriors to run a different play. As Durant fiddle-faddled with the ball, Green demonstrably gestured his displeasure, then went into the corner to await Durant’s move. He even had his hands on his shorts during the possession and didn’t make an attempt to rebound Durant’s miss. After the Grizzlies called timeout, Green headed to the sidelines visibly perturbed. He then pretty much came down Durant’s road for something.
–One edge the Grizzlies have over most teams when it comes to playing against the Warriors is that they can neutralize Green’s defense. Green wins the bulk of his matches around the league, but Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are different animals.
Both Randolph and Gasol are big enough, skilled enough and smart enough to take advantage of Green. Why is this big? Well, because Green is almost always an advantage on the defensive end. But against the Grizzlies, the Warriors sometimes even have to send a second defender toward Green, when defending either Randolph or Gasol in the low post. That’s not something Green’s teammates are used to doing.
–The Warriors took 30 3-pointers for the game, making only eight. But the breakdown is interesting: They took a very modest 20 3-pointers in the game’s first 45-and-a-half minutes, making seven. They took 10 in the last 7-and-a-half minutes, making just 1.