The Warriors started off the season on fire coming into the December 10th matchup with a league best 20-3 record, and having won 16 of their last 17. Kevin Durant fit in perfectly with the superstar-filled team, Draymond Green had already started his Defensive Player of the Year campaign, and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson continued to be on fire from 3-point land to start the season.
The Grizzlies entered the game with a 17-7 record, thanks in large part to the 5-game winning streak they had coming into the game. However, most fans didn’t have high hopes or expectations for the team against the Warriors. The 5-game win streak consisted of wins over weak competition and the Grizzlies were already dealing with the injury bug with Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, James Ennis III, and Vince Carter all unavailable to play.
The Grizzlies trotted out a starting lineup of Andrew Harrison, Tony Allen, Troy Williams, JaMychal Green, and Marc Gasol to face off against the Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Anderson Varajao starting 5. 9 times out of 10, that game results in a Warriors blowout win. Thanks to a balanced offensive attack and harassing defense, December 10th was not one of those 9 times.
It wasn’t an offensive explosion with high-efficient 3-point shooting like the first Moments in Memphis. This game was all about the defense. The Grizzlies played with a chip on their shoulder from the tip. The Warriors had as many turnovers as made field goals in the first quarter (5) and allowed the Grizzlies to jump out to a 31-16 lead from which they never looked back. The Grizzlies ended up forcing 23 turnovers in the game which the Grizzlies turned into 30 points. They nearly matched the Warriors’ 9 3s made with 8 of their own.
The Grizzlies had 7 players score in double figures and lead by as much as 30 points in the second half. At that point, fans who showed up in Warriors jerseys either left or walked down to the Grizzlies den and bought themselves a Grizz jersey. It was a game of total domination by the undermanned Grizzlies.
It was a huge statement win for the team. At that point in the season, any win recorded without Mike Conley was a big one. It also showed the NBA and its fans the Grizzlies weren’t a team to be overlooked. After struggling out of the gate to start the season to go along with their injury woes, this win proved to both fans and the team that they can beat anybody in the NBA. The Andrew Harrison-Tony Allen backcourt outscored the Steph Curry-Klay Thompson backcourt. Seriously.
It also showed flashes of what some of the young guys were capable of. Harrison did a good job of not letting the moment overpower him, and he ran the offense nearly to perfection. Jarell Martin had probably his best game of this season, chipping in 13 points and 7 rebounds while JaM recorded his 5th straight double-double. Troy Williams got in on the action with 11 points and this destructive block on Steph Curry.
With an inspiring, yet disappointing, end to the season still fresh, it’s nice to be able to look back on nights like this. With their backs against the wall facing the the super-team that is the Warriors, the Grizzlies punched them square in the mouth and didn’t let up.
If that’s not a Memphis moment, I don’t know what is.