NBA: Warriors blow big lead in loss to Grizzlies

 

OAKLAND, Calif. – Monday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies showed just why first-year coach Mark Jackson still believes the Golden State Warriors are a playoff team. They dominated a legit contender in the Grizzlies, leading by as much as 20 points.
Monday’s game also showed why some think that Jackson is crazy. Golden State blew that 20-point lead in an epic collapse, losing 91-90.
Monta Ellis led the Warriors with 20 points. Backcourt mate Stephen Curry finished with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists.
It was more than just the Warriors’ third straight loss at home, and third straight defeat overall. It was an indictment on their progress and a serious blow to Jackson’s talk of playoffs.
“What you don’t want is to run out of time,” Jackson said before the game. “There comes a point where you have to speed up the process – and we’re at that point. We have a great part of the schedule where we will be at home against some very good teams. But in our building, you have to take care of business. This is going to be a great stretch for us to begin to show who we are and cement our identity.”
They failed to do that Monday.
The Warriors (5-11) allowed a 20-point lead to gradually slip away – and looked almost powerless to stop it.
They led 63-43 with 3:32 left in the third quarter. Before you noticed, the Warriors’ advantage was down to 78-64 after a thunderous dunk by Memphis’ Rudy Gay inside of seven minutes left.
Then it was down to 78-72 after O.J. Mayo capped an 11-0 Grizzlies run with a three-point play at the 4:52 mark.
Golden State led 85-82 after Curry’s jumper was followed by two free throws from the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley. Then a Curry turnover produced a Tony Allen layup, cutting Golden State’s lead to 85-84.
Another Warriors turnover, this time by Brandon Rush, led to another Memphis layup, this time by Conley. After leading 68-52 entering the fourth quarter, Golden State was trailing 86-85.
Six times this season the Warriors had lost after entering the fourth quarter tied or within five points. Now, they were down and needing to make a play to prevent another collapse. They couldn’t do it.
They missed three straight jumpers, and Gay responded by drilling a fadeaway to put Memphis ahead 88-85 with 22.6 seconds left. Then Ellis squandered the next possession by forcing a contested 3-pointer.
“I believe in our system, I believe in our guys. We’re going to turn it around,” Jackson said. “When we play the way we’re capable of playing, execute the game plan and take care of the basketball and defend, we’re a very good basketball team. And until I see otherwise, I’m going to continue to believe it.”
Through three quarters, the Warriors had held Memphis to 37.7 percent shooting. What’s more, Golden State had shot 51.8 percent.
But it wasn’t enough to avoid the late collapse.
“In my opinion we have the best backcourt in the business,” Jackson said. “We have an all-star caliber power forward (David Lee). We have solid role players. And we are a defensive-minded basketball team. The reality is that we’re very close to being who I am convinced we are.”
They didn’t seem so close Monday night.
– The Warriors’ second unit – the Dub-Stitutes – once again put together an effective outing. Nate Robinson, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, Dominic McGuire and Ekpe Udoh started the second quarter. Golden State led 21-13. By the time they checked out, with 3:12 remaining in the first half, the lead was 15 points.

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