The Golden State Warriors were four minutes away from another hard-to-explain home-court loss, four minutes away from being just tied with the Memphis Grizzlies and falling to seventh in the razor-thin Western Conference playoff race, four minutes away from being just a half-game ahead of eighth-place Phoenix.
The visiting Grizzlies went ahead 93-86 on a Zach Randolph basket with four minutes to go in a crucial battle for positioning in the Western playoff chase Friday night at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors, backs firmly pressed against the wall, responded, scoring the final 14 points of the game for a huge 100-93 victory that leaves the Warriors still in sixth place, one game behind the Trail Blazers for fifth and 1½ games clear of the seventh-place Suns.
The full Western standings are below (x-indicates playoff berth has already been clinched):
|x-1. San Antonio Spurs||56-16||28-8||28-8|
|x-2. Oklahoma City Thunder||53-19||30-7||23-12|
|3. Los Angeles Clippers||51-22||31-5||20-17|
|4. Houston Rockets||49-22||29-7||20-15|
|5. Portland Trail Blazers||47-27||26-9||21-18|
|6. Golden State Warriors||45-27||24-12||21-15|
|7. Phoenix Suns||44-29||25-13||19-16|
|8. Memphis Grizzlies||43-29||23-14||20-15|
|9. Dallas Mavericks||43-30||24-13||19-17|
|10. Minnesota Timberwolves||36-35||21-14||15-21|
Stephen Curry hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:21 to go and Golden State (45-27) clamped down on the Grizzlies (43-29) down the stretch.
Memphis missed its final seven shots and committed a turnover in the final four minutes as the Warriors were putting together their game-changing—perhaps season-altering—run.
It was a battle all night as neither team held a double-digit lead in the game.
Golden State played without power forward David Lee, out with a strained hamstring, and started Marreese Speights in his place. The bench depth got stressed even more when Andrew Bogut went down with what was being called a pelvic contusion after playing just four minutes:
Andrew Bogut is done for the night with a pelvis contusion. #Warriors
— John Dickinson (@JDJohnDickinson) March 29, 2014
Both teams came out executing well, as the Warriors led 30-27 after one quarter. Memphis came back to cut the Golden State lead to one at the half, 53-52, with Curry leading the way with 14 first-half points to go with five assists.
Memphis came out strong in the second half, surging to an eight-point lead midway through the third quarter before the Warriors stormed back to take a 79-76 lead at the quarter break.
But the Grizzlies quickly came back to take a lead, with Golden State matching buckets with them for three straight possessions before Memphis scored seven straight points to take their fateful 93-86 lead.
Jermaine O’Neal made a pair of free throws after a Grizzlies turnover to tie it and Curry untied it with a nifty step-back 3-pointer.
Mike Conley tried to match it with a pull-up 3-pointer of his own, but was off target. Curry then hit a runner off the glass in the lane after a loose ball foul left possession at the Warriors end and Thompson closed it out with two free throws with 5.6 seconds left.
Curry finished with 33 points and eight assists for the Warriors. Speights chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting and Thompson had 14 points and five dimes. Green, who played 32 minutes off the bench, had 12 points and a game-high nine boards and O’Neal, pressed into 34 minutes after Bogut went out, finished with 10 points.
Memphis was 41-for-81 (50.6 percent) overall, but just 2-for-12 (16.7 percent) from 3-point range and 9-for-16 (56.3 percent) from the free-throw stripe. Golden State was 40-for-81 (49.4 percent), 9-for-20 (45 percent) and 11-for-14 (78.6 percent).
Curry knocked down 13-of-22, including 5-of-8 from deep.
The Warriors also outrebounded the Grizzlies 43-33, but were outscored in the paint 52-36. Turnovers weren’t much of a factor—the Warriors gave it up 12 times for 10 Memphis points while the Grizzlies had just nine turnovers, leading to six Golden State points.
Golden State, which hadn’t played in six days, is back at it Sunday when they host the Knicks at 6 p.m.
Tags: Golden State Warriors