Unfortunately for the Warriors fans who live outside of the Bay Area (or otherwise had no access to CSN Bay Area), the introductions and pregame hype segment for win number 73 was preempted by an extended tribute to Kobe Bryant.
The montage included tributes from (better?) players like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, who had to be wondering...why is no one making a big deal about my retirement?
At any rate, there was a game played at Oracle Arena tonight. It just happened to end a lot faster than anyone expected.
The greatest team in the history of the NBA ran roughshod over the Memphis Grizzlies. Well-rested after the brutal weekend two-step back east, the Warriors showed off their fresh legs in a fast-paced blowout. The Warriors scored an impossible 31 fast break points in the first half alone, despite just 14 paint points. With a ridiculous 14-of-28 effort behind the arc in the first half, even a great game from Memphis would've fallen short.
We did not get a great game from Memphis.
The Grizz were badly out-rebounded, which forced them to play at Golden State's pace all night long. And with a short, injury-depleted rotation, the Grizzlies didn't have the depth to give the Warriors a game. By the mid-first quarter, there was a real sense that their resolve was shaking. By the second quarter, with the Dubs up 20, they simply had little to play for.
Stephen Curry entered the game with 392 three point field goals on the season (the former record is 286). For some reason, Curry and fans considered 400 to be an accomplishment -- one that the MVP had an outside shot at reaching. I mean, 400 is impressive, but so is 300. It's like when Babe Ruth swatted 60 home runs: the record is like 39, it's not really a milestone. More like an edge-of-the-universe, mind-bending, incomprehensible fantasy.
At any rate, we know not to doubt Stephen Curry when he sets his mind to a task. He was determined to reach the record, and he got it in an instant. With six 3-point buckets and 20 points in the first quarter, he staked himself at 398 on the season with three quarters to go. He would hit one more in the second despite limited playing time to give the Dubs faithful a bit of a cliffhanger...but he's no tease. Curry opened the third quarter with a flurry of buckets, including two of the long-range "eff what you think" variety to give him 400. And then 401. Aaaaaand then 402. The world's greatest player finished with 46 points in three quarters (on 24 shots!!).
Easily overshadowed, but not to be forgotten, some other Warriors managed to have pretty sterling performances in the final tune-up before the playoffs. Klay Thompson added a ho-hum 16 and Draymond chipped in with 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Much more coverage to come on this epic, unbelievable team. In the meantime, congratulations to the 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors, the greatest basketball team ever assembled. Boo-yah. I'm late for a flight, so I'll leave it to my stellar GSoMers to keep the conversation going.
By the way...
- Curry increased his league-leading season scoring average to 30 points! He pocketed four free throws in the third quarter to clinch it.
- Klay Thompson moved to third on the all-time list for three pointers in a season, with 276. Curry holds the first and second spots.
- Curry collided with Zach Randolph in the mid-third quarter while the forward attempted to intercept a low pass. Fitz and JB may have gone a little overboard in describing the play in real time, however. What they saw as a flying knee to the head was actually a minor collision (Z-Bo's arm hit Curry in the neck and shoulder). Curry was un-injured.
- I have a really hard time believing Scottie Pippen could "shut down" Stephen Curry.
- Why is it noteworthy that Stephen Curry finished with 46 points on 24 shots? Well it means he once again topped 100% effective-field goal percentage (which is quite literally "game breaking," in that you cannot shoot that efficiently from the field without a three or free throws). Meanwhile, the inherently mortal Kobe Bryant has 45 points on 44 field goals as I write this...I wonder how much better the Lakers would be if they got 20
pitybonus possessions tonight? Even a terrible team can get 15 points on 20 possessions...
- S-dot (Shaun Livingston) hit the hardwood late in the fourth quarter and left the court with a bit of a limp. We can only hope he's alright.