Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 29 points while the Grizzlies were led by Marc Gasol’s 21. This was a grinding and plodding game, with Memphis playing at the slowest pace in the league and Golden State’s rotation being decimated. It was only the fourth time all season the Warriors were held to under 100 points, and the first win in a such a game since November 6th against the Miami Heat. The Warriors were missing a few bullets in the clip, yet the Grizzlies were still outgunned.
The Grizzlies won the first frame, ending the quarter with a 28-24 lead. Memphis had an incredibly hot start on three-pointers, going 6-10 from beyond the arc in the first quarter with 5 different players draining one. The Warriors only went 1-3 on three-pointers as they could not get into a rhythm with the consecutive turnovers they were committing. Golden State notched 7 turnovers in the first quarter, causing Steve Kerr to call his 2nd timeout after already burning the first just 3 minutes into the game. Golden State missed their FOUR primary playmakers, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston, and Steph Curry--and all four were missed early after some sloppy passes leading to Grizzlies points.
Memphis took 8 more shots than Golden State in the first quarter, which is a great way to beat such an unbeatable team. Giving yourself more and more opportunities to score points and denying the Warriors those same opportunities will help you win, even when your team is getting outshot 60%-43%.
28-24 MEM after 1. 121.7 ortg for MEM, 109.1 for GSW. MEM 27.3% steal rate in first Q pic.twitter.com/nnmApmd9NR— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) December 21, 2017
The 2nd quarter turned into The Klay Thompson Show. There might not be a player in the league who gets hotter than Klay Thompson when he is “on”. Klay coupled his great defense with a literally perfect start from the field (9-9 FG, 3-3 3P, 4-4 FTs) with 25 points before he missed his first shot with 18 minutes into the game. Klay Thompson was moving all over the floor, running over screens and cutting, embarrassing Andrew Harrison, who finished with 4 points. Klay was so hot Andrew Harrison had to guard him from 28-feet out. AND STILL FOULED HIM ON THE SHOT. It was that kind of quarter defensively for the Grizzlies. Golden State couldn’t take advantage like they usually could with their thin rotation. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined for 42 points on 16-22 shooting while the rest of the team scored 14 on 5-15 shooting. The Warriors would just need their two superstars, however, to take the lead into halftime 56-51.
Both teams’ offenses grinded to a halt in the 3rd quarter. Both teams scored fewer than 20 points, but the Grizzlies looked particularly powerless on offense. The pace would grind to a halt too, which benefited the Grizzlies. While Memphis didn’t cut the Golden State lead, they kept Golden State from running away with it in the third quarter, something they are apt to do when they know can sleepwalk against 20 other teams for the first half and still win. Yet, poor offensive games from Tyreke Evans and JaMychal Green, who finished with 10 and 4 points, respectively, would not do the trick.
Golden State was able to keep their turnovers down by slowing down transition and cutting down on dribbling by making extra passes. The Grizzlies only made four field goals during the entire 12-minute third quarter, somehow saving and scraping together 14 points in the frame. The Warriors would extend their lead heading into the 4th quarter 74-65.
The 4th quarter is where the boa constrictor that is the Golden State Warriors sucked the life out of the Grizzlies. They didn’t have intimidating personnel, but Golden State was able to shut down pick-and-rolls with Omri Cassipi and David West. After starting 10-23 from the field and 6-10 from three, Memphis ended the game 18-71 (25.4%) from the field and 6-21 (28.6%) on threes in the last three quarters. Half of those 3-pointers came in the fourth quarter, including a garbage time three-ball by Chalmers, who finished with 6 points on 2-9 shooting.
Memphis could not dig into the Golden State lead without any offense, especially since Golden State won’t lose their offense quite like Memphis can. Golden State didn’t dominate, but they were better in almost every phase of the game at least marginally. The Warriors had a better FG%, more rebounds, more assists, more points in the paint, and less turnovers than the Grizzlies even though they had a super sloppy first quarter.
Another loss for Memphis after looking like a polar opposite team than the one who beat Golden State and agitated Curry and KD enough to get ejected. Memphis continues to look outclassed and outmanned, even against a team at half strength.