And if the Warriors want to try and identify why they suffered a loss, it’s pretty easy: sloppiness. The talent was apparent on both ends of the court, from the opening tip until the final buzzer. But the sloppiness showed up in droves, and simply refused to go away.
It’s not that the Warriors didn’t bring the energy or show up for the game, as was the case in the first half of Tuesday’s narrow win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Dubs came out with enthusiasm and hustle, looking very engaged in the game. They jumped out to a 19-point lead early, and held a 37-20 advantage after the first quarter, thanks to a 13-0 run, a predictable flurry of Steph Curry brilliance, and some instant offense courtesy of Otto Porter Jr.
And while the energy and engagement didn’t wane, the execution did. And fast. With Curry out to start the second quarter, the Grizzlies went on a 14-0 run to get right back in the game, aided by a handful of Warriors turnovers and some general sloppiness.
The turnovers were a theme. More than a theme, really. The turnovers were the central plot of a movie with no side plots. They came in all form and fashions: forgetting how to dribble, forgetting how to pass, poor communication, overambitious passing attempts, and, lest we forget to give credit where credit is due, some tremendous pressure and pick-pocketing by a Memphis defense that had struggled prior to this game.
The low point came with just 67 seconds remaining in regulation. The Dubs had just earned a stop in a tied game, and Damion Lee handed off the rebound to Draymond Green. Green walked the ball up the court, calling a play, but not paying attention to the clock. He got an eight-second violation while still about eight feet away from halfcourt.
Instead of having the ball with a chance for the lead, the Warriors were back on defense; neither team would score again in the period, culminating in Curry missing a three — on a great look, no less — at the buzzer.
All of those trends continued in overtime. Curry, who was brilliant early on, stayed ice cold, failing to make a bucket in the fourth quarter or in overtime. The careless turnovers didn’t stop just because the extra period started, and a Damion Lee three stood as the only points the Dubs scored in the extra frame. Lee got a great look in the final seconds to tie the game, too, but this time his three only went two-thirds of the way down before popping out.
In all, it was a 23-turnover night for the Warriors, and it’s hard to win when you do that. Curry had five of them, and while he dropped in 36 points, his cold second half led to shooting just 11-for-29, and 7-for-20 from deep. Green also had five of them, and Jordan Poole had six in a game he’ll want to quickly forget.
And while Curry — one of the league’s best scorers — had a sensational start and a brutal end, one of the league’s other top scorers, Ja Morant, did the opposite.
It was Ja’s world in the second half — particularly in the final minutes of regulation and overtime — and the Warriors were just living in it. The young star finished with 30 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals, while shooting 11-for-22 from the field, with nearly all his damage coming in the second half.
And that was enough to hand the Dubs their first loss.
They fall to 4-1, but have a great chance to bounce back on Saturday, with a home game against the Thunder.