Warriors

Sloppy Warriors blown out by Grizzlies in Memphis

Sloppy Warriors blown out by Grizzlies in Memphis

BOX SCORE

MEMPHIS --  The Grizzlies bolted out of the starting gate and never looked back.

The Warriors weren't exactly gaining on them anyway.

Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and Memphis rolled over Golden State 110-89 for its sixth straight win.

"We couldn't have played much worse," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, "and I thought (the Grizzlies) were great. They came out, took it to us.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures, including Zach Randolph and JaMychal Green with 14 points each.

"We stayed poised, we stayed in control, we stayed aggressive," Gasol said. "We played to win. We didn't play not to lose."

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis had a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter.

Golden State ended a four-game winning streak. The Warriors had won 16 of 17, the lone loss in the stretch coming 132-127 in double overtime to Houston on Dec. 1

Kerr benched his starters with 10 minutes left and Memphis leading 93-65.

It was just one of those rare nights for Golden State, which entered with the league's best record at 20-3. The Warriors had a season low in points, a season high in turnovers (23) and were close to their season low in shooting percentage (44.2 percent).

Golden State's 38 first-half points were its fewest in any half this season.

"We weren't on the same page. We were trying to force too many things," Thompson said, adding that "(the Grizzlies) definitely took us out of our rhythm early, and we let that affect us on the offensive end and the defensive end."

The lead ballooned to 68-38 when Memphis scored the first seven points of the second half, and the Grizzlies held an 87-65 lead after three quarters.

"It was one of those nights," Durant said.

TIP-INS

Warriors: C Zaza Pachulia was a late scratch with a right wrist contusion. Anderson Varejao started his first game of the season (and first with Golden State)... Damian Jones made his NBA debut in the fourth. Jones was selected with the 30th overall pick out of Vanderbilt in last summer's draft. ... Curry's 3-pointer in the third quarter tied him with Steve Nash for 17th career in 3-point field goals.

Grizzlies: Gasol made a 3-pointer in the third quarter. The 7-foot-1 center has now made a shot from outside the arc in eight of the last nine games. ... JaMychal Green (14 points, 10 rebounds) recorded his fifth consecutive double-double. .Memphis trailed for only 31 seconds in the game, 3-2.

CELEBRATING IAN

Clark had his high school number retired Friday night at Germantown High in a Memphis suburb. Clark, who attended college at Belmont, is the only former Germantown player to make the NBA. Several teammates, including Durant, Draymond Green and Curry, attended the ceremonies.

TOO MUCH WARRIOR LOVE

Gasol has grumbled this year when opposing fans have packed into FedExForum and subtly mentioned it Saturday night.

"We did a good job of keeping their crowd out of the game for the most part," he said. "I think our crowd won. We didn't let their fans get too excited throughout the game."

UP NEXT

Warriors: Continue a five-game trip at Minnesota on Sunday. The five-game swing matches the longest stretch away from home for Golden State this season.

Grizzlies: Play their only road game over a two-week stretch traveling to Cleveland on Tuesday night. The teams then travel to Memphis to face each other Wednesday in a back-to-back.

Warriors center Jordan Bell ideal starter while DeMarcus Cousins gets healthy

Warriors center Jordan Bell ideal starter while DeMarcus Cousins gets healthy

OAKLAND -- The Warriors have indicated that, until DeMarcus Cousins is available, they plan to stay with the center-by-committee system installed two seasons ago. To generate continuity, though, they’ll need a regular starter.

If length and athleticism are the priorities, third-year 7-footer Damian Jones has the edge.

If reliability and technique are crucial, they’ll look to 6-9 Kevon Looney, who is entering his fourth season.

If sheer talent is the primary factor, it likely will be 6-9 Jordan Bell, coming off a rookie season that was by turns spectacular and disappointing.

“As long as we get it done,” coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday after practice, “it doesn’t matter to me.”

“But if somebody takes it, that’s great.”

With the NBA being a talent-first league, Bell would seem to enter training camp with a lead. He is as athletic as Jones with more court awareness, and far more athletic than Looney and also has broader skills. No center on the roster has more energy than Bell.

Then there is this: The Warriors visualize Bell as the ideal matchup for Clint Capela in Houston, the team considered most likely to deny the Warriors a fifth consecutive trip to The Finals.

Bell acquitted himself well when the teams met in the 2018 Western Conference Finals. The confidence gained from that series vaulted the University of Oregon product to a higher level when the Warriors advanced to the NBA Finals, where he was terrific.

“The Western Conference Finals was the most competitive basketball I’ve ever played,” Bell recalled. “I’ve never had to experience any competition that was that tough, where literally every single play counts.”

Bell’s says he’s a “way better basketball player” than he was as a rookie, yet his fate likely will rest on his ability to achieve consistency. He worked on that during the summer and believes that, along with the experiences of his rookie season, should be of benefit in Year 2.

Bell talks about being a better pro, defining it as “showing up on time, not making rookie mistakes. I know what the schedule is now, so I should know exactly where to be and what time to be there. And what’s expected of me.”

That’s largely a result of veteran influence. David West, now retired, was in his ear. So was Draymond Green. And there was a one-on-one conversation with Kevin Durant last April, as the team flew home from Indiana, that proved profound.

Though Kerr was impressed by Bell’s work over the summer -- he praised his hoops intellect and passing, and even gave him the green light to fire midrange jumpers -- there still is much to prove.

“He understands now how hard he has to work,” Kerr said. “It’s hard for a rookie to come in and understand what being a pro means.

“But he gets it now. I think he’s more committed than ever. He’s got to be more consistent as a player, but that starts on the practice floor every day.”

Matchups will be a factor in determining a starter. Changing the starting lineup on a regular basis requires constant adjustment for the other four starters, all of whom are All-Stars. While they’re wise enough to do that, that approach isn’t particularly sustainable.

The likely expectation is that Jones will fill the role vacated by JaVale McGee, playing 10-15 minutes off the bench along with spot starts. Looney probably will remain in a similar role, playing significant minutes some nights and not at all on others, based on the opponent.

Bell, however, is the most versatile. He offers some of what the Warriors would get from Jones and Looney. Bell is prepared to start, but hardly fixated on it.

“I want to be the guy who finishes, not the guy who starts,” he said. “That’s what I’m going for.”

Kevin Durant: 'I still gotta get better' at one thing in particular

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USATI

Kevin Durant: 'I still gotta get better' at one thing in particular

Kevin Durant is ...

... really good at basketball.

I promise.

But that doesn't mean he has mastered every aspect of the game.

"I still gotta get better at setting screens and moving off the ball a little bit, but I'm glad I still got some room to grow in that area," Durant told Greg Papa on Bonta Hill on 95.7 The Game. "I played a lot of pickup ball this summer -- moreso than I ever played -- and that's something I thought about running up into screens.

"I'm like, 'Let me hit this guy now.' Whereas before, I was slipping out of screens trying to get me a shot."

[RELATED: Steph Curry's summer the best of his career, 'trajectory is still going up']

Durant is absolutely right.

It's well documented how Steph Curry does a fantastic job of setting picks (particularly back screens). In many instances, two defenders stay attached to Curry, and a teammate gets a wide open shot or dunk.

It's probably safe to assume that the Warriors' coaching staff has been talking to Durant about becoming a better screener over the past two seasons. And it sounds like he's ready to make it happen.

"It's only gonna help our team," Durant added.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller