NBA Gameday: Revenge on Warriors' mind against Grizzlies

NBA Gameday: Revenge on Warriors' mind against Grizzlies

OAKLAND -- Forgive the Warriors if they have a measure of vengeance on their minds when the step on the floor Sunday afternoon.

They’ll be staring at the Memphis Grizzlies, who came into Oracle Arena on Jan. 6 and handed the Warriors perhaps their most galling regular-season loss in three years, wiping out a 19-point fourth-quarter deficit to take a 128-119 victory in overtime. It was the first time in 55 years a team had staged a comeback of that magnitude against the team with the best record in the league.

The Warriors (58-14), who have been the NBA’s best home team since 2014, will be seeking to even the season series as well as win their seventh consecutive game.

One of the surprise teams of the NBA in the first half of the season, the Grizzlies (40-32) have come back to reality, going 6-8 since the All-Star break. They’ve lost their last two, at New Orleans and at San Antonio.

Warriors by 10.5

Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley: It has become cliché to say Conley is underrated, so we’ll just say he’s the NBA’s finest unsung point guard. Curry and his teammates know this. Conley this season is averaging career-highs in scoring (20.0 points per game), field -goal percentage (44.9) and 3-point field-goal percentage (39.7). Curry, of course, is the back-to-back MVP and the man most likely to feel salty about that Jan. 6 loss. He also has been playing well of late. These two will generally dictate the fortunes of their respective teams.

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain and bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Grizzlies: C Marc Gasol (L foot strain) is out. F Chandler Parsons (L knee rehab) is listed as out. G Wade Baldwin, C Deyonta Davis and Jarell Martin are on assignment with Iowa of the D-League.

LAST 10:
Warriors: 7-3. Grizzlies: 4-6.

The Warriors have lost two of three meetings earlier this season but have won nine of the last 12 overall.

THE PACE GAME: The Grizzlies are deliberate and ultra-physical. They prefer to play at a crawl; they rank 28th in pace. Their philosophy is to stay close through three quarters and find a way to win in the fourth. The Warriors want to play at jackrabbit speed; they’re third in pace. The team that can impose its style gains a massive advantage.

OPENING/CLOSING STATEMENTS: The Warriors will seek to build an early lead in hopes of enlarging their margin for error. They may need any cushion they can create, as they well know the Grizzlies thrive in the clutch. Memphis is 15-6 in “super-clutch games (within 3 points in the final minute or regulation or OT).

KLAY AND THE GRINDFATHER: Memphis guard Tony Allen takes particular pride in his ability to defend, and he goes after Klay Thompson like a lion chasing a gazelle. Each has had his individual triumphs over the other, and their battle occasionally influences the outcome. Thompson won the last, torching the Grizzlies for 36 points last month in Memphis. Allen surely remembers that.

Two positives, two negatives from Warriors' close loss to Nuggets

Two positives, two negatives from Warriors' close loss to Nuggets

DENVER -- The Warriors took their first loss of the season Sunday night, building an early 12-point lead before falling behind by 13 and roaring back to make it tight in the final minutes.

For their spirited work down the stretch, they still walked out of Pepsi Center with a 100-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Here are two positives and two negatives culled from the Warriors' narrow defeat:


Iguodala returns

After missing most of the previous two games due to tightness in his left calf, Andre Iguodala returned and played 26 minutes of mostly good basketball.

He totaled 4 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. He was minus-5 for his effort.

The most encouraging moments came in the first and fourth quarters, with Iguodala soaring in for dunks to punctuate fast breaks. The latter came with 1:29 remaining, tying the game at 97-97 and lifting spirits on the bench.

Igoudala said he probably could have played Friday night in Utah, but the Warriors opted for caution and gave him two more days. There was a bit of rust, most visible on the kind of silly fouls he usually avoids. But he was in the finishing lineup, and that’s when he’s needed most.

Looney’s perfect game

Kevon Looney came off the bench, submitted 19 minutes and was minus-8 for his evening. It was an imperfect performance by most means.

Not by shooting, though. Looney made all four of field-goal attempts and both of his free throws. He did not miss. He finished with 10 points, adding six rebounds and two blocks.

Looney is now 11-of-18 from the field (61.1 percent) and his 6.0 rebounds per game ranks third on the team, behind Kevin Durant (9.3) and Draymond Green (8.7).


Curry getting lonely beyond arc

The Warriors were 7-of-26 from beyond the arc, with Curry accounting for six of the makes. This is starting to have a familiar feel.

Curry has made 16 3-pointers this season, 5.3 a game, roughly the amount he averaged in setting an NBA record in 2015-16, when he dropped in 402. So that’s fairly normal.

What’s not normal is that his teammates have combined for a total of eight. Klay Thompson and Jonas Jerebko have two apiece, with the other four being scattered among Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Quinn Cook and Alfonzo McKinnie.

Thompson splashed one on Sunday and now is 2-of-16 from deep. Durant was 0-of-4 and is 1-of-10. This will change, of course, but it’s an ugly start.

“That number surprised me,” Curry said on Sunday. “I’m not worried about it. Klay and KD will get it going. Draymond will get it going, in terms of the looks he gets. The rotation guys, whether it’s Andre or Jonas or Quinn or Alfonzo ... will get that going. 

“Everybody’s got to keep shooting. And that’s what we’re going to do."

Oh, those turnovers

The Warriors gave -- it’s the right word -- the Nuggets 19 points. That’s how many Denver scored off 19 turnovers committed by the defending champs.

That brings the season total to 56, or 18.7 per game, putting the Warriors in the bottom five in the league. Everybody is aware of it; it’s Kerr’s pet peeve. But so far, it hasn’t been rectified.

The four All-Stars accounted for 12 of the giveaways, with Durant leading the pack with four. Green committed three, bringing his season total to 14. Curry is second with 11.

The worst part is that all these turnovers are coming without the constant offensive motion that has defined them under Kerr. If anything, the turnovers are a by-product of the team playing outside its identity.

Warriors have a foul problem through first three games of NBA season

Warriors have a foul problem through first three games of NBA season

DENVER -- Draymond Green is not a fan of the NBA’s newest points of education, which he interprets, with sound reason, as being largely beneficial to offense. It certainly appears that way for the Warriors.

For they are having an exceedingly difficult time defending without being whistled for fouls.

“It seems like every game we’re coming out and committing four fouls in the first five minutes or so,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Sunday night, after the team’s first loss, 100-98 to the Nuggets at Pepsi Center. “It happened in preseason. It’s happened in all three games now.”

Three games into the season, the Warriors are minus-48 (108-60) in foul shots. They’ve been whistled for 81 personal fouls, an average of 27 per game. For perspective, they committed 1,607 fouls last season, an average of 19.6 per game.

“Some of the fouls we have are just dumb as hell,” Green said. “We’re in the bonus with six, seven and eight minutes to go in every quarter, and we’re still fouling. Some of them are a bit questionable and some of them are on us, just ridiculous.

“We’ve got to be smarter. We can’t sit there and act like every foul call on us is wrong. Throughout the course of the game, the officials are going to get some wrong. That’s the nature of the beast. They’re human. That’s the game we play.”

The Warriors paid a steep price against the Nuggets. Their fouls led to 42 Denver free throws, giving the Nuggets more than enough scoring to come away with a two-point victory.

Sure, Green missed a potential game-tying free throw in the final seconds. Sure, the Warriors were outrebounded (47-40). Sure, they shot 24.1 percent from behind the 3-point arc. And, sure, they were trailing by 13 with 8:28 remaining.

But no aspect of their performance -- with the possible exception of their 19 turnovers -- was more damaging than all those fouls, sending waves of Nuggets to the free throw line.

“It’s been called pretty tight,” Green said. “We were told that. Defense isn’t really an emphasis anymore in this league. You’re seeing that all around the league, with these high scores. We know what the emphasis is. We’ve just got to be better, and we haven’t done that in three games. We won two of them, but it caught us tonight.”

If the goal of the league was to generate more scoring, it’s working. Twelve teams are averaging at least 115 points per game. The Warriors, who last season led the league with 113.5 points per game, are at 110 after three games.

That’s the indirect influence of their fouling, which disrupts any chance of the Warriors gaining rhythm, much less kicking their transition game into overdrive.

“We’ve got to adjust, if that’s the way it’s going to be, consistently,” Stephen Curry said.

“We’re just not executing,” Green said. “We’re turning the ball over a lot. Part of that is we’re playing against a set defense every time.”

The transition game thrives when the defense is forcing misses or getting deflections and steals. Neither is happening as much as usual with the Warriors.

“We’ve got to correct it,” Kerr said. “We talk about it all the time, we drill it all the team. We do defensive drills without reaching, without grabbing, so you’ve got to just keep drilling it. It has to become something that becomes a habit. We haven’t gotten there this year.”

With a 2-1 record, it’s not as if the Warriors have fallen flat. But several problems have come to the surface, and fouling definitely is one of them. It’s one they’ll have to solve to get back to playing championship basketball.