After pulling out an overtime win in Los Angeles against the Lakers, the Warriors came back to Oakland to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. While the Grizzles have been struggling of late and were without point guard Mike Conely, the Warriors were short-handed as well.
Golden State will be without Draymond Green (shoulder), Zaza Pachulia (shoulder), Shaun Livingston (knee) and Andre Iguodala (flu-like symptoms) tonight against Memphis.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) December 21, 2017
Missing five rotation players (as Stephen Curry is still sidelined as his ankle heals) would spell doom for just about every NBA team even against the weakest of opponents. But despite these injury-related absences, the Warriors were still able to defeat the Grizzlies, winning 97-84 in Oracle Arena.
In a defensive struggle, Klay Thompson brings the offense
The Warriors offense was provided by Thompson, who finished with a game-high 29 points. However, what was most astonishing was that 27 of Thompson’s points came in the first half.
Coming off of a rough shooting performance against the Lakers on Monday, Thompson put in one of his better shooting performances from the field, going 10-for-16 and 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Thompson also had the right attitude about his unbalanced scoring performance against the Grizzlies.
Klay Thompson on his uneven his first half and second half: "That’s fine. We won. I’ll take that result every time."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) December 21, 2017
The other important part of Thompson’s performance Wednesday night was that he was able to get to the free throw line. Thompson shot a season-high six free throws, taking advantage of the physical Grizzlies defense and getting calls to get to the line. Thompson has averaged around three free throws a game for the past three seasons, but is closer to one per game this season. Hopefully Thompson can get that average back up to around 3 per game and this performance against the Grizzlies can serve as the impetus.
Between Thompson’s 29, Kevin Durant ’s 22 points (on an inefficient 8 for 20 shooting), and Omri Casspi ’s 12 points, the Warriors were able to supply enough offense to pull away from the Grizzlies and get the victory.
Positive signs from McCaw and Young
With Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston all missing Wednesday night’s game, the Warriors were also going to need their other guards and ball handlers to make big contributions. In very different ways, both Patrick McCaw and Nick Young stepped up and made those contributions.
McCaw, who has been struggling this season, only scored 3 points. That said, 2 of those points came on this spectacular putback dunk early in the fourth quarter.
While McCaw wasn’t able to get on track in terms of scoring, he made some very valuable contributions in other aspects of the game. The second-year guard ended the game with eight rebounds, tied with Durant for the most by a Warriors player on Wednesday night. McCaw also had 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. But above all, McCaw was hustling and trying to make things happen throughout the night even though his shot wasn’t falling.
Young, meanwhile, had a much more inconsistent game than McCaw. Young went scoreless in the first half, not making shots and having some defensive lapses that led to Grizzlies buckets. However, he picked up his game in the second half, including this outstanding sequence.
Swaggy with the defense to offense pic.twitter.com/VCO93DNMfm— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 21, 2017
Young finished the game with 7 points and 6 rebounds, which tied a season high for him. Like McCaw, Young was active and contributing even when his shot wasn’t falling, contributing in other ways to help the Warriors get the win.
A tale of two halves for the Grizzlies
Though Memphis sits near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, they came out of the gate looking poised to steal a game from the Warriors. At the end of the first quarter, the Grizzlies even held the lead.
END OF Q1: Warriors down 28-24 to Memphis. Thanks largely to Golden State's seven turnovers, Memphis has attempted eight more shots than the Warriors.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) December 21, 2017
The combination of sloppy Warriors basketball and the Grizzlies taking and making more shots than they normally would allowed them to get out to the early lead. However, that trend would not persist through the rest of the game. The Warriors cleaned up their ball-handling and cut down on some of the turnovers and, more importantly, the Grizzlies’ field goal percentage plummeted back to Earth.
Grizzlies 2nd half shot chart: 10-of-44, 22.7 percent pic.twitter.com/KyiuAb08tY— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 21, 2017
After shooting 45% from the field in the first half (including a surprising 42.1% from 3-point range), the Grizzlies regressed back towards the mean and their offense stagnated in the second half. The only Grizzlies player to get over 20 points against the Warriors was Marc Gasol, who scored 21 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Besides Gasol and a surprising 10 points from Ben McLemore, the Grizzlies had no offensive answer for even the short-handed Warriors. Tyreke Evans, who was coming off of back-to-back 20+ point games against the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, struggled to score just 10 points and could not be the second offensive option beside Gasol.
Though it was not a pretty game or an especially fun one to watch, the Warriors earned another victory. Though the Grizzlies aren’t a power in the Western Conference anymore, it still speaks to the strength of this team that they were able to win even while missing a solid chunk of their rotation. Those players will have a chance to rest and continue to heal before the Warriors face the Lakers on Friday night, this time in Oakland.
Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Grizzlies?
This poll is closed
Klay Thompson’s first half
Omri Casspi’s cuts
Pat McCaw’s dunk
Nick Young’s block
The second half defense