Golden State Warriors finish off Memphis Grizzlies with fourth-quarter spurt

By Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange  |  March 27, 2017 at 10:52 AM
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors would like nothing better than to avoid the Memphis Grizzlies for as long as possible in the upcoming NBA playoffs.

Sunday, the two-time defending Western Conference champs took a big step toward assuring they won't be seeking the Grizzlies for a while.

Stephen Curry contributed two 3-pointers to a 14-5 fourth-quarter run that enabled the Warriors to pull away from the Grizzlies en route to a 106-94 victory.

Curry finished with 21 points and a game-high 11 assists, and Klay Thompson tossed in a game-high 31 points for the Warriors (59-14), who extended the league's longest active winning streak to seven games while squaring the season series 2-2 with the Grizzlies.

"They're just real good," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the Grizzlies (40-33), who with the seventh-best record in the West would match up in the first round with the San Antonio Spurs if the playoffs started today.

"They're one of the best defensive teams in the league. They're smart. They have the continuity of having played together for a couple of years. They're more of a traditional team, which presents different challenges."

Mike Conley, the hero of a Grizzlies win the last time they visited Oakland, had 29 points and a team-high six assists for Memphis (40-33), which couldn't take advantage of losses by the Los Angeles Clippers (44-31) and Oklahoma City Thunder (41-31) earlier in the day in their tussle for the fifth, sixth and seventh playoff spots in the West.

"You have a chance to be in the game late against the two best teams in the West. If you're looking for moral victories, that's a moral victory," noted Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, whose club was coming off a 97-90 loss at San Antonio.

"But we're not into that. We really need this next game (Monday night at Sacramento), so we're going to go in there and just give it a great, desperate effort."

The Warriors led just 83-81 entering the fourth quarter and 89-86 three minutes into it after a 3-pointer by the Grizzlies' Troy Daniels.

But the Golden State defense then forced nine consecutive Memphis misses, allowing the Warriors' Curry-led offense to take charge.

"We just picked up our intensity," Kerr said of the Golden State defense, which held the Grizzlies to 13 fourth-quarter points. "When we can get stops, get out and run and hit threes, that's usually a catalyst for us."

Curry provided the 3-pointers. The first of the game-determining run came at the end of a 7-0 burst that opened the lead to 96-86 with 4:57 remaining.

After Conley ended the Grizzlies' drought with a jumper, Curry countered immediately with another 3-pointer, this one creating the largest lead to that point at 99-88 with 3:33 remaining.

"I don't know where our brains went," Fizdale observed of his fourth-quarter defense. "Every single situation where we were supposed to switch or execute a certain thing defensively, we just went out to lunch. I don't know what happened -- we were playing such a good game mentally -- but we just got shot."

Thompson hit seven of his 11 3-point attempts and Curry five of his 12, helping Golden State finish 17 of 31 (54.8 percent) from beyond the arc.

Andre Iguodala was a third Warriors player with 20 or more points, accumulating 20 on 7-of-8 shooting, including two 3-pointers.

The Warriors outscored the Grizzlies 51-24 on 3-pointers.

Conley had four of Memphis' eight 3-pointers. He connected on four of six, while his teammates combined to miss 19 of 23.

"We have a lot of guys who take a lot of pride defensively," Conley responded when asked why the Grizzlies have played the Warriors so tough this season. Memphis is one of just two teams -- San Antonio being the other -- to have beaten Golden State twice this year.

"A lot of teams like to trade baskets in the league nowadays and just go up and down and see if we can outscore each other," Conley continued. "But we're trying to stop you and I think that's different than most teams."

Zach Randolph had 15 points and JaMychal Green 13 to go with a game-high-tying eight rebounds for the Grizzlies, who dropped their third straight.

The game was tightly contested throughout, with neither team able to gain more than a nine-point advantage until Curry's 3-pointer with 4:57 left.

The Warriors gained a nine-point lead -- the game's biggest to that point -- on an Iguodala dunk that put Memphis in an 80-71 hole late in the third quarter.

But the Grizzlies immediately countered with a 10-1 burst to get even, with Daniels contributing a 3-pointer and Conley two baskets to the run.

NOTES: Both teams were without a key player. Warriors SF Kevin Durant (strained knee ligament) missed his 13th consecutive game and the Grizzlies held out C Marc Gasol (strained left foot). ... Asked before the game about Gasol's prognosis, Grizzlies coach David Fizdale reported, "It's not his surgical foot. It's not a rest thing. When something like that comes up, you just want to be cautious and err on the side of keeping him healthy." ... The Warriors improved to 9-4 without Durant. ... The Warriors have four winning streaks of seven or more games this season. ... The Grizzlies' three-game losing streak isn't even their longest in March. They had a five-gamer to start the month.

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