What we learned as Steph goes cold late in Dubs’ first loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — The last time the Warriors played the Memphis Grizzlies, they lost an overtime heartbreaker that ended their 2020-21 NBA season.
So when Memphis entered Chase Center on Thursday night, Golden State wanted to prove it was a different team than it was six months ago.
In some ways, the Warriors did prove that. But they didn’t prove it enough, as they fell to the Grizzlies 104-101 in OT for their first loss of the 2021-22 NBA season.
The outcome wasn’t different, but the Warriors (4-1) showed the strides they have taken since last season, though a few things throughout the night were reminiscent of what once hindered them.
While the Warriors’ bench is far deeper now, it struggled to get large contributions. Turnovers again were a big issue, and Golden State had a hard time keeping Memphis star Ja Morant quiet. And again, the game extended into overtime and the Warriors went cold.
Here are three takeaways from the night:
Steph to the rescue
While a lot has changed since the last matchup with the Grizzlies, one thing has remained a constant: The Warriors will go as far as Steph Curry takes them.
On Thursday, he was the reason they stayed in the game after giving away their 19-point first-half lead. But he went scoreless in the fourth quarter and overtime, and that played a big role in why Golden State lost.
Curry finished the game with 36 points on 11-of-29 shooting, including seven 3-pointers and too many dazzling plays to count. There was the play when Nemanja Bjelica found him for a cutting layup in the first quarter. Or when he shook De’Anthony Melton in the third quarter and then buried the 3-pointer in the third. And when he caught his own blocked shot and made the second-chance bucket. And many more that include ridiculous 3-point shooting.
For the past two games, the Warriors didn’t need Curry to score in the fourth quarter. But they did against the Grizzlies (3-2). The fact that he couldn’t is why they went to OT and came up short in the end.
As much depth as the Warriors have added and as many players they now have to help take the pressure of Curry, he’s still the main decider for how their games will end. And on Thursday, his third consecutive scoreless fourth quarter (and overtime) cost them.
Two-Way Wiggs is back
Assigned to be Morant’s primary defender, Andrew Wiggins brought the tenacious defensive energy that makes up one-half of his Two-Way Wiggs nickname.
In the first half, Wiggins — and a few others on Morant — held the Grizzlies’ guard to just two points in the opening quarter, and five in the second. Yes, throughout the game, Morant heated up and finished with 30 points, but keeping a cap on him for as long as Wiggins did must be commended. He finished with two blocks and one steal.
On the other end of the court, Wiggins attacked the hoop more — what he does best on offense — and finished with 16 points, including some big buckets down the stretch of the fourth quarter.
Losing their flow
Ball movement — a big part of the Warriors’ success in recent years — was re-emphasized during the preseason. And their game against the Grizzlies featured some of their best movement of the regular season — at least, in the first half.
Not only did the Warriors record 29 assists for their 39 made field goals, but they continuously swung the ball from corner to corner, executed flawless tic-tac-toe passes and played with constant flow. It’s easy to see why the Warriors play at their best when they effortlessly move the ball.
That being said, the second half of the game showed just how much the Warriors can struggle when they don’t move the ball or execute passes. After putting up 37 points in the first quarter, the Warriors scored just 18 in the second because they kept coughing up the ball. Their saving grace in that period was their defense, which kept Memphis from going on a massive run.
The Warriors ended up committing 22 turnovers that led to 22 Grizzlies points. But the worst part is 16 of them were committed by Curry, Jordan Poole and Draymond Green — including an eight-second violation for failing to get the ball over the half-court line with 55 seconds left in the game and the score tied.