But thanks to point guard Stephen Curry, the club that refers to
itself as a "no-excuse team" didn't have to make any.
Curry capped a 33-point night with two hoops, including a 3-pointer,
in a 14-0 run to close the contest as the Warriors rallied from
seven down to stun the Grizzlies 100-93 in a game with major Western
Conference playoff implications.
When a loss would have lifted the Grizzlies into a tie in the
standings with the Warriors, the win by Golden State (45-27) instead
vaulted it two games ahead of Memphis (43-29) with just 10 to play
in the race for the sixth playoff spot in the West.
It also squared the teams' season series — a potential first
playoff-position tie-breaker — at 2-2.
"Huge win," stressed Curry, who topped 30 points for the 18th time
this season. "These are the games we have to have to close out the
After being held to seven points in the first eight-plus minutes of
the fourth quarter as they watched a three-point lead turn into a
93-86 deficit, the Warriors got a driving hoop from shooting guard
Klay Thompson with 3:16 to go to trigger the difference-making run.
Backup power forward Draymond Green made it a two-point game with a
3-pointer on Golden State's next possession, and the Warriors tied
the score 93-all on two free throws by backup center Jermaine O'Neal
with 2:04 left.
Then Curry took over. First he buried a tie-breaking 3-pointer with
1:21 to play for a lead the Warriors never relinquished before
converting a driving layup that made it a five-point game with 30.9
"We're never quitting," Curry assured. "We have the weapons to take
a heavy punch. Obviously, you never want to be down in the fourth
quarter. But we can fight back."
Thompson completed the run, and the night's scoring, with two free
throws with 5.6 seconds left.
The Grizzlies, who shot 50.6 percent from the field, missed their
last six shots and went scoreless in the final 4:02.
"I don't know if it slipped away," observed Grizzlies coach David
Joerger. "The kid (Curry) was the best player on the floor. He's
Curry had eight assists to complement his 33 points on a night when
he made five of eight from beyond the 3-point arc. Green (12 points)
added two 3's as Golden State outscored Memphis 27-6 on 3-pointers.
Marreese Speights, starting at power forward in place of injured
David Lee, contributed 15 points and eight rebounds to the win. The
Warriors outrebounded the Grizzlies 43-33 despite playing without
Lee all night and center Andrew Bogut for the final 44 minutes after
the veteran big man suffered a pelvic contusion.
"We had tailor-made excuses," assured Warriors coach Mark Jackson.
"This is a big-time win. They understand the light are bright and
they embrace it."
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Power forward Zach Randolph had 21 points for Memphis, which had won
its five previous trips to Oakland, including an 88-81 overtime
affair earlier in the season.
Point guard Mike Conley added 20 points and center Marc Gasol had 17
for the Grizzlies.
"It is really disappointing," Randolph insisted. "We were up five
with just a few minutes left in the game and we couldn't execute or
get stops. It was very frustrating."
The Warriors caught fire after they could not buy a hoop earlier in
the fourth quarter.
Down 79-76 entering the final period, Memphis used a stingy defense
and four consecutive hoops by Conley to build a 93-86 lead with 4:02
to play. The Warriors had only three field goals in more than eight
minutes to begin the quarter.
But the game then swung when Conley missed an open 3 that could have
extended the margin to 10 with 3:23 to play.
Instead, the Warriors dominated the rest of the game, holding the
Grizzlies scoreless to enable the come-from-behind win.
"It's nothing new to us," Jackson said of the comeback. "This is who
this team is."
Bogut's injury occurred four minutes into the game when Gasol
crashed leg-first into the veteran's midsection, sending the
Warriors center to the locker room for the rest of the night with
what was labeled a pelvic contusion.
Bogut is scheduled for an MRI on Saturday.
NOTES: The victory gave the Warriors back-to-back 45-win seasons for
the first time since 1975-76 and '76-77. ... Small forward Andre
Iguodala returned from a three-game absence due to right-knee
tendinitis to contribute five points and five rebounds to the Golden
State win. ... The Warriors hadn't beaten Memphis in Oakland since
Nov. 3, 2010. ... The Grizzlies' franchise record for consecutive
wins at a road site is six. They currently have six-game winning
streaks at Minnesota and Detroit. ... The loss was the Grizzlies'
first of the season in the state of California after five
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