Warriors fight back as Stephen Curry throws behind the rim
SAN FRANCISCO — With Golden State leading Memphis by just two points with 1:14 remaining Wednesday night, Stephen Curry applauded Jordan Poole after what Curry said was an ill-advised 3-point attempt by his Warriors teammate.
As a frustrated Curry ran for defense, he pulled out his mouthpiece and swung it through the air. It bounced off the court and landed near the courtside seats to be ejected automatically.
“It was a key moment in the game and the way our season went, the questions about the increased sense of urgency … when you want something really bad … I reacted in a way that took me out of the game.” and they put the team in a tough position,” Curry said after the Warriors cruised to a wild 122-120 victory.
It was Curry’s third career shutout, including the playoffs. All three shots were to his mouthpiece. In Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Curry was ejected for an almost identical incident where his mouthpiece flew into a fan sitting courtside. In 2017, he was ejected after throwing his mouthguard at a referee in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Because his mouthpiece didn’t hit anyone on Wednesday, Curry said he thought it shouldn’t have been an immediate ejection. But crew chief Sean Wright confirmed the reasoning to a pool reporter: “Stephen Curry takes a mouthpiece and throws into the stands with power, by rule, that’s an automatic ejection.”
Curry finished the night with a game-high 43 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field, including 4-of-10 from 3. He also hit 10 of his 11 free throws.
With 4:25 left in the game, Curry cut the Warriors’ deficit to four points with a 26-foot 3-pointer over Ja Morant. About two minutes later, at 2:18, he equalized with a long 2-pointer, also over Morant.
The Warriors got a huge stop on the other end, followed by three Curry free throws. A minute later, Curry was ejected.
Even without their star, the Warriors dug deep enough to win.
“It’s a big win for us for a lot of reasons,” Draymond Green said.
He continued: “I think there’s always more focus in this game [the Grizzlies] they bring out a different competitive side in us and we do the same for them. Both teams will rise for this game, it’s always fun.”
It wasn’t a pretty game, at least in the first half. The Warriors committed 11 fouls and 14 turnovers in the first half – the most they have committed in any half at home this season. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies’ offense was cold, shooting just 41.7% from the floor, including 25% from 3 on 4-of-16 shooting.
Towards the end of the second quarter, however, things started to turn around for both teams. Along with that came some trinkets. As the teams left the court for halftime, Curry, Klay Thompson and Poole chirped at Memphis players as they walked toward the tunnel. In the third quarter, Green and Brandon Clarke picked up technical fouls.
This was the final chapter in the Warriors’ budding rivalry with the Grizzlies. Neither team feels they’ve reached their full rivalry potential yet, but given last season’s playoff run, they have all the makings of a deal.
The Grizzlies tied Wednesday’s game with 6.1 seconds left on a dunk by Clark. On the next play, the Warriors looked to get the ball to Thompson, who hit a 28-foot 3-pointer with eight seconds left. But on this possession, with 6 seconds left, he missed the shot. The ball was deflected by the Grizzlies, giving the Warriors possession.
That’s when Green thought about playcalling for Golden State.
“I was trying to think fast and I thought all our other offside plays that we’ve already made,” Green said. “I was trying to come up with something that No. 1 didn’t see, but No. 2 could give us some space.
Donte DiVincenzo was holding the ball and looking for a way to go. First, Thompson rang left behind the green screen. Then Anthony Lamb turned left. Meanwhile, Poole cut into the hoop.
DiVincenzo and Poole made eye contact and DiVincenzo passed him the ball. Poole finished with a reverse layup to put the Warriors up by two with 2.3 seconds left. It was the first field goal in the final 10 seconds of a game in Poole’s career.
“[It was] fire,” Poole said. “That’s the only way to put it. It was pretty bland. … To take something positive from this, we know what to do in these tough games. We’re getting a lot of experience with close games in the regular season, and that will definitely help us down the road.”
The Warriors have had several clutch games (when the score is within five points in the final five minutes) this season, but have not found success in them. Golden State is 12-13 in such games, which is 18th in the NBA. This week, the Warriors have given up double-digit leads in the second half of games three times, losing two of them.
The main reason for this, say the Warriors, was the execution, or lack thereof. But against the Grizzlies — especially after Curry was ejected — the Warriors were able to execute. Most importantly, run their game out of bounds.
“We needed this win badly,” Curry said. “Not just because it was Memphis and all the stories there, but it’s just how we play … To see the guys bounce back the way they did and get the job done, there was a lot of celebration. tunnel.”