If someone were to tell you that the Golden State Warriors had a 24-point lead over the Memphis Grizzlies in the 3rd quarter and went into the 4th with a 19-point lead, yet still managed to lose the game by 9 points, would you believe them? You might think they were messing with you, right? What if they told you Stephen Curry had 40 points in the same game? You might ask what medications they’ve been on lately. You would say that’s impossible.

Well, it’s not. Because that’s what happened.

The Warriors (31-7) and Grizzlies (23-16) met for the second time, with this meeting taking place on the Warriors’ home court in Oakland. In their previous meeting in Memphis, the Warriors were dominated by the Grizzlies, who won that game 110-89 on Marc Gasol’s 19 points and 8 rebounds. This game would once again result in a win for Memphis, though the turnaround came much later in this one, as the Warriors actually led most of the way before the Grizzlies lived up to their “grit and grind” mantra, mounting the biggest comeback of any NBA team this season to win 128-119.

Golden State’s shots were falling early. The Warriors even knocked down two quarter-ending buzzer-beaters – Kevin Durant hitting at one the end of the 1st quarter, and Klay Thompson hitting one at the end of the 2nd quarter going into halftime to push the Dubs’ lead to 12. Grizzlies still trailed the Warriors 79-98 end of the 3rd quarter. However, a quick 16-0 run in the 4th quarter by Memphis would put them within two points of Golden State at the 5:01 mark as the Warriors went ice-cold, with their only points coming off free throws.

The Warriors only had two field goals in the 4th, both coming from Stephen Curry. Careless play, bad shots, and sloppy turnovers allowed the Grizzlies to outscore the Warriors 32-13 in the 4th quarter, which was capped off by a jump shot from Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley to tie the game at 111. Memphis quickly took their first lead of the game off a shot by Marc Gasol to give the Grizzlies their first lead of the game. Memphis would never trail again as they proceeded to outscore Golden State 17-8 in OT en route to a 9-point win over the Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Grizzlies snapped a two-game losing streak coming into this game, and have now taken a 2-0 lead over the Warriors in the regular season.

The Grizzlies were led by forward Zach Randolph (27 points/11 rebounds) and Conley (27 points/12 assists), followed by Gasol (23 points, 5 rebounds). Tony “First Team All-Defense” Allen (11 points/12 rebounds/6 steals) contributed with his trademark strong defensive play, and Memphis also got quality minutes from Troy Daniels (12 points) late in the game. On the Warriors’ side, Stephen Curry led all scorers with 40 points (6 assists). They also got contributions from Durant (27 points/13 rebounds), Thompson (17 points/6 rebounds), and Draymond Green (11 points, 8 rebounds).

Battle of the Bigs

Golden State, a team that tends to rely heavily on guard play and outside jump shots, typically struggles against teams that have talented bigs. Marc Gasol is one of the most dominant centers in the NBA, and that skill was on full display tonight. Gasol is a center that has expanded his range out to the 3-point line, so opposing centers are forced to respect that ability. Warriors center Zaza Pachulia struggled guard Gasol, who was a force for the Grizzlies wherever he was on the court. Zach Randolph has embraced his bench role this season, coming in and making an immediate impact, outplaying Draymond Green at every turn.

Stephen Curry had a lot of success early on penetrating layups en route to his 40-point night, as Memphis’ bigs seemed willing to allow Curry to get his points while effectively neutralizing the rest of the team. Breakdowns between the Warriors’ frontcourt players contributed to Golden State’s late woes as Memphis’ frontcourt continued to get whatever shots they wanted.

Also of note – Green would eventually foul out in OT.

Jump Shots and Three-Point Shooting

The Warriors are a renowned three-point team. That’s been their calling card. However, they lost the three-point shootout tonight, going only 8-of-30 from downtown, while the Grizzlies went 13-for-33 from behind the arc. This was something that new Memphis head coach David Fizdale began implementing during training camp. Marc Gasol in particular has become more of a stretch-5 this season, capable of knocking down threes.

Despite the three-pointers falling for Memphis, they still managed to play smarter than Golden State. The Warriors will try to draw teams into playing their game and settling for forced or contested jump shots. The Grizzlies did not fall for it, however, and they took the ball to rim, moved the ball, and made sure to get good looks to close out the game. Meanwhile, the Warriors settled for rushed, tough, long-range jump shots, and played “hero ball,” rather than trying to move the basketball and look for the best shot. Steve Kerr’s young team clearly still has a lot to learn about closing out games.

These two teams will have two more meetings this season – February 10th at FedEx Forum in Memphis, then back in Oakland at Oracle Arena on March 26th to wrap up the season series. Meanwhile, the Warriors will attempt to get back in the win column when they travel to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Sunday. The Grizzlies will look to build on this big win when they host the Utah Jazz on Sunday at the Grindhouse.

About The Author

Darrin Burrell is a life-long fan of the NBA. He has a been a fan of the Washington Bullets/Wizards his whole life, he grew up playing basketball, and considers himself a true student of all aspects of the game. Darrin currently resides in the Washington, DC area.

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