Warriors dominate in the Return of Stephen Curry, Win 141-128
After an embarrassing loss to the Charlotte Hornets, the Golden State Warriors (28-8) would take on the Memphis Grizzlies (11-24). This was the second half of a back-to-back, and this game would be extra special because it is the return of Stephen Curry. He missed nearly a month with a sprained ankle and the team’s overall stats suffered even though they went 9-2. All of the Warriors team was good to go, with no one sitting out injured for the first game in a very long time. The Warriors would go on to beat the Grizzlies 141-128.
In the first quarter, the Warriors looked like an elite offense again. For the first several minutes, it looked as if they could not miss a shot if they tried. They got out to a quick 10-0 lead and were scoring in transition rather than in the half court, which made the first quarter of this game more exciting than any of the last 11 games. The Warriors were playing very efficiently on offense, and the return of Stephen Curry was already proving to be paying dividends for the other players on the team. Steph looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, and finished the quarter with seven points, and was playing a big part in initiating the offense and keeping the tempo up. Klay Thompson was scorching hot and had 14 points in the opening quarter on 5-7 shooting. Kevin Durant also shot the ball really well and had nine points at the end of the quarter. Even Zaza Pachulia was getting in the mix with seven points. The Grizzlies were playing the most efficient offense I have ever seen them play, and were able to keep pace with the Warriors on the backs of Marc Gasol and Kobi Simmons, who combined for 25 points on 9-11 shooting. Both teams shot the ball over 60%, with the Warriors hitting 70% of their threes (7-10). After the first quarter, the Warriors led 40-38,
The second quarter was just as exciting as the first. Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 21 points as he was able to stay hot. With Steph shooting the ball as well as he was (7-9, 77.8%), it opened the floor up and allowed for the team to distribute the ball and get open shots. This was evidenced by the team shooting the ball at a 67.4% clip, which is absurd, and the fact that Zaza Pachulia had 11 points in the half. The Grizzlies were also still shooting the ball uncharacteristically well at 51%. Their leading scorer was still Marc Gasol, who ended the half with 19 points. The second quarter was full of highlight plays for the Warriors, including several incredible threes from Stephen a monster putback dunk from David West, as well as several blocks from Jordan Bell. Draymond Green was ejected early in the quarter because he was arguing with the ref, it was a fairly questionable ejection, but it is what it is. At the half, the Warriors still led the Grizzlies, 78-67.
In the third quarter, the Warriors continued to explode on the shoulders of Stephen Curry. He only played 23 minutes through three quarters, but he had 35 points on 12-16 shooting, and nine of those were threes. Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant still played well and had 19 points and 18 points, but the third quarter was all about Steph. It felt like he couldn’t miss, and Oracle Arena was exploding in a way that hasn’t happened in the last month. For the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol was still having a great game, and had 27 points on 10-13 shooting. Both teams were shooting the ball incredibly well, with the Grizzlies at 50.7% and the Warriors at 63.5%. Both teams were also making more than 60% of their three point shots. At the end of the third, the Warriors led 116-98.
The fourth quarter was basically just garbage time. Both teams’ field goal percentages dipped in the final quarter, naturally, but both teams still had impressive nights. The Warriors finished the game shooting 58.8% from the field, including 54.5% from deep. The Grizzlies finished at 52.1% overall, and that included a remarkable 71.4% from three. The Warriors’ leading scorer was Stephen Curry, who was barely in the game in the fourth quarter, but he did hit another three, which marked the first time a player had 10 threes in a game in the entire NBA this season. He finished with 38 points on just 17 shots. The Warriors beat the Grizzlies 141-128.
Tonight, Stephen Curry returned after an 11-game absence, and it was as an impressive a performance as he has ever had. He was blisteringly hot all game. He came into the game shooting 38% from three, and left it shooting above 40%. His return opened up the whole offense and it flowed like a fine-tuned machine. The Warriors were able to space the floor and find the open man, and they finished the game with 37 assists. He is able to do things with the ball in his hands that no one in the history of the NBA has been able to do. Now, I am a proponent of the idea that Stephen Curry is the greatest basketball player to have ever walked on the Earth, so I am biased, but I think that he proved tonight how truly special he is, and what kind of an impact he has on the game. Also, he snapped Marc Gasol in half and proceeded to drain a three right in his face, and I thought it was absolutely hilarious.
Zaza Pachulia also had one of his best games as a Warrior tonight. The spacing on the floor allowed for him to get open around the basket, and he finished with 17 points. He also did a great job setting screens for Steph and Klay and allowed them to get a lot of wide-open looks from three. He nearly had a triple double, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out six assists.
Basketball is better with Stephen Curry.
The Warriors play next on Wednesday, January 3, in Dallas against the Mavericks at 5:30 p.m.