With Curry out because of a mild-concussion, the Warriors found themselves playing right into the Grizzlies hands. And the result was Golden State’s 11th straight loss to Memphis and the first home loss of the season.
Without Curry, Golden State had 19.9 points and 8.7 assists taken out of their offense. But Curry, clearly, brings even more than that. The intangibles the Warriors rely on created a noticeable void when missing. They missed the threat Curry is on offense. They missed the attention he draws from the defense and his ability to make stuff happen.
“Obviously he’s a big-time player and not having him hurts us,” coach Mark Jackson said. “But the next guy stands up. We are a no-excuse basketball team. I thought my guys gave a great effort. They defended, battled and we fell short.”
Memphis met little resistance while grinding the game into a halt. By the end of the night Wednesday, the Warriors stood only a puncher’s legs. But they had no legs to throw it.
The Warriors managed to out-duke the Grizzlies for a half they led by as much as 12 and early in the third quarter. But over the long haul, Memphis proved to be significantly better at the rough-and-tumble, low-scoring affairs.
“We wanted to push the pace,” Jackson said. “I thought that’s when the game changed when we started to walk it up the floor. They scored a little bit more, slowed it down by posting up their bigs. There’s no secret we are at our best when we are pushing the basketball.”
More on Wednesday’s loss
Andrew Bogut. He played 43 minutes, 13 seconds. If you know anything about what he’s been through the last two years, you know that’s a feat. His longest stint as a Warrior came against arguably the best two-way center in the league. And the stat line shows Bogut held his own.
18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 4 blocks
12 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steal, 1 turnovers, 2 blocks
The eye test backed up the data. The Grizzlies controlled the tempo and made it a grinding, half-court game. But for most of the night, especially on the defensive end, the Warriors were game. And Bogut was the reason. Whoever he defended, and he spent time on Gasol and Zach Randolph, struggled to score.
Harrison Barnes. He started so well. He made his first three shots and had 10 points in the fourth quarter. Then he disappeared. When the Warriors needed him most, Barnes relegated himself to a jump shooter. Maybe the minutes got the best of him (he topped 48). But with Mike Miller on him, not a good defender, he settled for pull-ups instead of attacking the rim. After the first quarter, he managed just 6 points on 3 of 11 shooting. With no Curry, in a half-court game, the Warriors could have used their slashing, explosive athlete to get buckets.
Golden State made 5 3-pointers on Wednesday. Let that sink in. The Warriors were 5 of 18 from 3. They hadn’t made fewer than 8 this season. This was just the second time they took fewer than 20 from deep.
The 3-point shot usually offsets the disparity of free throws. Opponents live at the line against the Warriors. But making just five 3-pointers wasn’t enough to offset Memphis’ 17-4 advantage in free throws made.
All you need to know about the Warriors’ bench is that fans are now pining for Toney Douglas — the same guy who a month earlier made fans long for Jarrett Jack.
The Warriors’ bench is brutal. And it is becoming increasingly clear Mark Jackson doesn’t trust them. Marreese Speights had one of his best overall games with Golden State. He hustled and didn’t look so lost on defense. Still, he was 1 of 5 shooting and finished -7. Kent Bazemore, the summer league star who many (including me) expected to contribute this season, didn’t give the Warriors anything in his six minutes.
In a game where the Warriors were down one starter (Curry) and two reserves (O’Neal and Douglas), only two bench players saw double-digit minutes. Every starter Wednesday played in the 40s.
***** I am not a fan of the Warriors’ addiction to isolation offense. Especially not against good defensive teams. They just don’t have those type of players. You need to be able to make something happen out of nothing. You’ve got to have improvisational skills and instincts. You can’t take advantage of a clear out if you just have a couple moves and that’s it.
Lee, when he backs you down, he’s going for the lefty flip shot 90 percent of the time. If I know that, the people who are paid to know certainly do. Even when the help is there, he’s still trying to force his move. No up-and-under after he’s already dropped in a couple. No fake left and go back to the right. It’s just rote posting. (He is much more dangerous when facing up, though he leans to fading flip shot. Randolph could not guard him when he went straight at the rim. He got a bucket every time.)
Same for Barnes and Klay. If they have a smaller player on them, they back ’em down as close as they can before dropping in the turnaround. If it’s a defender their size, Barnes is probably going to go for the hard jab right, take a quick first step left and pull-up for the jumper. Thompson is going to drive left and try the step-back, one foot fade-away.
At least Curry has handles to shake-and-bake, along with a developing floater game and a deadly pull-up jumper. You’ve got to have options for isolations.
I do like Barnes posting and going one-on-one. That part of his game needs to be developed and it will get better the more touches he gets. The rest, they need to be ISO’d sparingly, not as a steady diet.
I think the Warriors should rely much more on motion offense. They’re such a good passing team. Even if defenders sag off, I’d much rather run Bogut from the high post with players moving off the ball and let him set someone up. Ball movement, pick-and-roll, weak side activity, flashes to the paint. That’s when the Warriors are at their best.
***** It seemed like the obvious choice, starting Harrison Barnes. The way Barnes started, it looked like a great call. But in hindsight, a benefit I have and am exploiting, I wonder if it would’ve been best to start Draymond Green.
I’ve got two good reasons.
No. 1, Green needs to play more. Granted, there could be something going on behind the scenes keeping him from getting more time and I’m just not privy to it. But from where I sit. when he’s in the game the Warriors do well. Especially now that’s able to knock down a spot-up 3-pointer. The last four games, Green has come in and made an impact. That has proved true against Oklahoma City, Utah and Memphis.
But Green hasn’t topped 18 minutes in five games, averaging shy of 13 minutes during that span. The last time he played 20 minutes was at Memphis.
Starting Green is a way to get him more minutes and with the team’s best players.
No. 2, Barnes appeared to flame out. He looked tired, settling for jumpers and front-rimming his shots. Knowing his bench was depleted, might’ve been good to leave Barnes coming off the bench. That perhaps would’ve given the Warriors something to turn to on the bench and kept Barnes fresher at the end of the quarters
***** I like Jackson’s decision not to double Randolph and Gasol until late in the game. I know he got cooking for a stretch. But it creates more problems to double and rotate.
Randolph need 22 shots to get 21 points. Gasol needed 14 shots to get 18. They combined for 39 points on 15 of 36 shooting. That’s pretty good defense. Lee stepped up and played Randolph as best as he’s played him. The times Randolph did school Lee were only heightened because of the Warriors’ inability to score.
Let Lee and Bogut take their medicine, everybody else stay home and make Gasol/Randolph score every time down.
Eventually, the Warriors’ started doubling down and it led to open looks for Conley and Tayshaun Prince.
***** How does it feel for fans watching the other team go on a run and Mark Jackson not take a timeout. I know part of my attention is absorbed by writing during games and it feels like he waits forever to call a timeout. I can only imagine what it feels like if you’re an engaged fan fully attentive and waiting for something to happen to change the tide.
Over a five minute, 46 seconds stretch in the third quarter, the Warriors’ 12 point lead gradually morphed into a three point deficit. It was an ugly stretch for Golden State. Over 11 possessions during that stretch, the Warriors had four turnovers and missed four jumpers while going 2 of 7 from the floor. David Lee even missed two free throws. It snowballed until it was a 17-2 run by the Grizzlies.
That’s Jackson’s thing. Sometimes it won’t work. Most times it does, this season, as his team is 8-4. It’s still odd though. We’re just so conditioned for those moments when we expect a timeout is coming. But Jackson is a feel coach and I defer to his rationale on this one.
KEY MOMENT 1
The Warriors found themselves down two entering the fourth quarter. But if you take away the perspective that they had a 12-point lead, it’s not such a bad position. Still, things got worse for Golden State.
Kosta Koufos started the quarter with a dunk. Bazemore followed with a turnover which, after an offensive rebound, led to a jump hook from Randolph. Golden State suddenly trailed 63-57.
Lee put back Speights miss to pull the Warriors within four. But the scrambling Golden State defense left Mike Miller wide open. His 3-pointer pushed the lead to seven.
Jackson put his starters back in at the 10:18 mark.
Thompson dropped in a fade-away. Two defensive stops later, Barnes converted a runner. Another Warriors stop led to a Draymond Green jumper. And a Memphis timeout.
But out of the stoppage, Bayless missed another long jumper. On the ensuing offensive possession, Thompson connected on a 3-pointer to put the Warriors up 68-66.
In a symbol of how the rest of the game would play out, Memphis came right back and tied the game. Koufos drove the lane and threw down a one-hand dunk over Bogut, so emphatically you’d think he was getting revenge for what the Warriors did to Koufos and the Nuggets in the playoffs.
WHAT WAS THAT???
Despite running on fumes, and locked in a style of play not their own, the Warriors got the stop they needed. Gasol missed a turnaround jumper and Randolph’s ensuing tip didn’t drop. With 7.9 seconds left, Bogut emerged from the pack with a rebound.
He got it to Iguodala and then it got dicey.
“Yeah, we didn’t want to take a timeout,” Iguodala said, “and tried to get a good look.”
But it looked as if half the team was expecting a timeout. Andre had to implore his teammates to push it with him. By the time he crossed half court, the Grizzlies defense was set and Iguodala was dribbling the clock down for a final shot.
“We had talked about it previously,” Mark Jackson said. “I thought he did a good job of getting to his spot. So he had options. But I’m very fine with the action that took place.”
The action was Iguodala going one-on-one against Tayshaun Prince. The seconds waned and Iguodala began to get desperate. He used a crossover to get to his spot near the free throw line and spun back for the fade-away jumper.
“I feel like I had an advantage. [Marc] Gasol did a good job of helping over on the shot. They played really good defense on that play.”
But the result was much different from the picturesque fade-away he hit at the buzzer to beat Oklahoma City. This time, he wasn’t even close. No screens. No ball movement.
Jackson said his primary concern was making sure the Warriors got the last shot.
“He (Andre Iguodala) did a good job of getting to his spot. So he had options. I’m fine with the action that took place.”
Some who lean toward the stats say don’t call a timeout. The advantage goes to the defense when you stop play and give them a chance to set up. The offense has the advantage in the helter-skelter transition action.
One problem: the Warriors’ didn’t have the horses for that. Their best freestyle player was wearing a blazer. Their starters were gassed. Their fast-break game was non-existent. And isolations weren’t working (largely because Gasol was zoning up, sagging off Bogut and providing help). Considering the obstacles, the Warriors’ best hope was a well-designed play. You know, kind of like the one that beat OKC.
WHAT HE SAID
“Yeah but that’s no type of excuse because their starters played a lot of minutes too. It’s early season, something you’ve got to just fight through, and next time we have to play that many minutes we’ll be even more ready for that.” — David Lee on the starters’ heavy minutes
AT LEAST WE LEARNED
Iguodala can do this point guard thing for long stretches. Lost in that fact was he went toe-to-toe with a very solid point guard in Mike Conley Jr. His shot wasn’t falling (3 of 14 from the field), but Iguodala had 14 assists. He limited Conley to 19 points on 19 shots.
You could argue he was too much into point guard mode, though. A few times, he appeared to have a line to the rim. Instead, he only drove deep enough to set up the kick out. In the first half, he forced his way past Conley and got a dunk out of it. Seemed like he could have done more of that.
Still, it’s a pretty amazing display of versatility when you think about it. It’s one thing to be a small forward and run the point against your man. It’s another to do it against the opposing point guard. Especially one as small, quick and crafty as Conley.
KEY MOMENT 2
Grizzlies guard Mike Conley Jr. opened overtime with an improbable bank shot high off the glass. The Warriors answered with a chaotic possession, lowlighted by excessive nervous passing, that ended with David Lee forcing a 17-footer to beat the shot clock.
After Gasol corralled Lee’s brick, Zach Randolph dropped in a lefty hook over Bogut. The Warriors trailed 79-75 1:19 into overtime.
Iguodala missed a 3-pointer on the next Warriors possession, but a good defensive series let to a shot clock violation by Memphis. Lee went by Randolph for a layup to cut the Warriors’ deficit to two. After another stop, Golden State tied the game with a tough baseline jumper by Thompson at the 1:55 mark.
But the next time down, as the Warriors doubled the post, Iguodala lost connection with Conley and, of course, he drilled the open 3-pointer. Thompson was the victim of a veteran flop by Tayshaun Prince and the Warriors’ following possession was lost to an offensive foul. Prince then dropped in a 21-footer from the right wing, an open look as Gasol passed out of the double team.
Out of the timeout, the Warriors executed a play that is clearly becoming one of their favorites. Bogut set a down screen and, when the defense followed the shooter to the top, Iguodala hit Bogut for an alley-oop dunk. Golden State played 23 seconds of great defense, but Prince’s step-back jumper just beat the shot clock, putting the Warriors down 5 with 24.8 seconds left. Ball game.
BEFORE YOU GO
Warriors rookie center Ogjnen Kuzmic is out indefinitely with a broken right hand.
X-rays showed the 7-foot Serbian fractured his fifth metacarpal when he hit his hand on the backboard in the final minutes of the opening period.