Warriors shut down Grizzlies for 10th win in row
OAKLAND, Calif. — The hare beat the turtle Wednesday night, doing so by stealing the snail’s game plan.
Forced into a half-court game by a stingy Memphis defense, the Golden State Warriors used a superior defense and 51 combined points from Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant to earn a hard-fought, 97-84 victory over the struggling Grizzlies.
Thompson had a game-high 29 points and Durant 22 for the Warriors, but the duo combined for just nine in the second half, when Golden State’s defense was the difference-maker, holding the Grizzlies to 10 field goals and 33 points.
“Both teams played physical, especially the Grizzlies,” said Thompson, who scored 27 of his 29 points in the first half. “We showed can win any way. We gutted it out.”
Memphis, which has lost 16 of its past 18 games, led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter and shot 18-for-40 (45 percent) in the first half.
However, the Grizzlies went 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) in a 14-point third quarter and 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) in a 19-point fourth, dropping them to 2-14 since floor leader Mike Conley was shelved with an Achilles injury Nov. 15.
Memphis (9-22) shot 33.3 percent from the floor overall, including 22.7 percent in the second half.
“I thought defensively we were really good in the second half,” Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “In those situations, we need to play with more pace and get easier buckets by running and get some attack layups, try to loosen the game up a little bit.
“When you keep getting stops and you can’t make shots, I think guys get deflated a little bit.”
The Warriors, who lead the NBA in blocked shots, hindered the Grizzlies’ cause with eight blocks, with Durant and Patrick McCaw swatting two apiece.
Playing its first of seven straight at home, Golden State didn’t take full advantage of the Grizzlies’ shooting woes. While the Warriors outrebounded Memphis 44-41, they turned one of their 30 defensive rebounds and none of the Grizzlies’ 16 turnovers into fastbreak points, recording a total of two.
“It doesn’t happen often, but obviously we’re missing a bunch of guys,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose team played without regular starters Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia as well as key backups Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
“It was a little bit of a strange game,” he continued. “We played great defense, and we won. Who cares how many fastbreak points we got? If we get two next game, then we’ll talk about it.”
Omri Casspi chipped in with 12 points for the Warriors, who improved to 6-0 since Curry was sidelined earlier this month because of a sprained ankle.
The Warriors (25-6) shot 45.9 percent from the field but saw a streak of 12 consecutive games with 100 or more points snapped.
Marc Gasol overcame 5-for-15 shooting to score a team-high 21 points for the Grizzlies, who were tipping off a stretch of seven of eight on the road.
“I think we got a little more static in the second half offensively, a little more predictable,” said Gasol, who shot just 1-for-5 after a 14-point first half. “The ball didn’t move as much. There weren’t as many passes or sacrificed drives where you draw two guys and you advance it to the next guy.”
Tyreke Evans, Jarell Martin and Ben McLemore added 10 points apiece for Memphis, which was limited to 96 or fewer points for a fifth consecutive game.
The Grizzlies beat the Warriors 111-101 at home in the first week of season.
Both teams held 10-point leads in a first half that ended with the Warriors on top 56-51 despite going the first 24 minutes without a fastbreak point.
Thompson had 17 points in the second period, when the Warriors used an 11-4 burst late in the quarter to build their advantage to 52-42.
NOTES: The Grizzlies return to Oakland for a rematch against the Warriors on Dec. 30. ... Golden State’s 10-game winning streak is the NBA’s fourth of 10 or more games this season. Boston (16), Houston (14) and Cleveland (13) had longer runs. ... The Warriors began the night leading the NBA in fastbreak points with 22.0 per game. ... Warriors coach Steve Kerr reported before the game that PF Draymond Green (sore right shoulder) would participate in a full-contact scrimmage Thursday, which, barring an incident, would open the door for him to return Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.