Coming into tonight’s game, the Memphis Grizzlies hadn’t played since Wednesday in their home season opener. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors were coming off the first half of a back-to-back against the New Orleans Pelicans. The 1-1 Warriors looked to get on a roll in the Grindhouse, while the Grizzlies were looking for a rare statement October win.
Andrew Harrison started the game off on a positive note with a three, and that trend would continue for Memphis for the rest of the half from beyond the arc. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol both struggled out of the gate. However, Marc picked up the pace offensively and had 15 points and 11 rebounds at halftime. Conley would have no such luck, though, as he was 0-6 from the field through the first two quarters.
During the first quarter, the second unit propelled Memphis. Dillon Brooks came into the game and made an immediate impact with a bucket and an assist. Tyreke Evans also got off to a hot start. Mario Chalmers and Evans both made threes to push Memphis ahead toward the end of the first, and the Grizzlies led Golden State by 2 entering the second.
Chandler Parsons received a standing ovation when he entered the game in the first, and he proved his worth offensively in the first half after a disastrous season opening performance on Wednesday.
The Warriors struggled with their shooting, but as the second quarter went on they got into a rhythm. Steph Curry had a slow start but racked up 16 points going into the third, and Kevin Durant had 16 as well. But their combined 32 points weren’t enough, and Memphis lead 56-51 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Warriors threatened to come back, but their efforts were quickly stifled by another surge from the Memphis Grizzlies’ offense (yes, you read that correctly).
James Ennis let his presence be known in the third quarter (particularly with several monster dunks), and he ended the night with 13 points. Mike Conley finally scored, and Marc Gasol continued to dominate. The Grizzlies excelled in the paint; they led in this category at the end of the third, 36-22. The Grizzlies were up by 17 heading into the final period.
In the fourth, the Warriors started to make it a game again, cutting Memphis’ lead to 5 at one point. The Grizzlies were able to respond as Memphis rattled off runs of their own and expanded the lead back to double digits, which forced the Warriors to call a timeout. Thanks again to players like Dillon Brooks and James Ennis III, the Grizzlies pulled away again and secured the statement victory against the reigning NBA champs, 111-101.
For the Warriors, Kevin Durant ended up with 29 points, and Steph Curry had 37 points, but both were ejected with less than a minute left in the game.
The key tonight was the second unit. Mike Conley overall had a weak night with only 10 points. Role players like rookie Brooks and Mario Chalmers carried Memphis. Jarell Martin had 8 points, and Chandler Parsons ended the night with 8 points himself (including 2 threes), which somewhat redeemed him in the eyes of Grizz fans. When the starters struggled to start the game, others stepped up to take some pressure off Mike and Marc, although Gasol ended the night with 34 points and 14 rebounds.
And let’s keep in mind, JaMychal Green (who should be a key player for Memphis) was out hurt, and Ben McLemore hasn’t even been added to the equation yet. So it’ll be interesting to see how these Grizzlies mold into this new version of Memphis with a faster style of play and more athletic abilities.
The Grizzlies will look to continue their winning ways on Monday night against their division rival, the Rockets, in Houston.