Memphis Grizzlies end the Warriors’ 16 game winning streak


Dec 16, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) drives between Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) and forward Marries Speights (5) at FedExForum. Grizzlies defeated the Warriors 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies came through against the NBA’s hottest team on Tuesday night, defeating the Golden State Warriors 105-98. The Warriors came into the game having won 16 straight games, but that fact didn’t seem to register with the Grizzlies, who had only seen one loss on their home floor all season. But while the Grizzlies were confident that they would get the win, they knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task as they saw the Warriors jump out to an early 30-24 lead after the 1st quarter.

The one encouraging sign for the Grizzlies early on in the game was that Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were able to take advantage of the Warriors’ soft interior which was lacking the presence of Andrew Bogut. After the first quarter, Gasol and Randolph had combined for 18 points and 7 rebounds. However, the Warriors were doing what they do best which is beat you from the perimeter. Stephen Curry had 6 points and 3 assists after the first quarter and Harrison Barnes surprisingly had 9 points.

After a tough first quarter, the Grizzlies started to catch fire. Vince Carter hit three three-point shots within the first three minutes of the second quarter which was the catalyst to a 20-0 run by the Grizzlies. Yeah, you read that right. A 20-0 run. Those 4-5 minutes where the Grizzlies shutout the Warriors really made the difference in the game, sending a message that there are no free baskets in Memphis. While Vince Carter was the spark to that run, the Grizzlies collectively played really well, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They grabbed rebounds, pushed the ball in transition, and made easy shots, which is the formula for successful Memphis Grizzlies basketball. This fantastic run enabled the Grizzlies to go into the half with a 57-49 lead with Marc Gasol leading the way with 14 points and 4 rebounds.

As the second half started, things continued to go the Grizzlies’ way. The Grizzlies were able to hold the Warriors to just 20 points in the 3rd quarter after holding them to 19 points in the 2nd quarter. This great defensive play by the Grizzlies enabled them to have an 80-69 lead after three quarters. However, despite their fantastic play through three quarters, the game was far from over.

During the 4th quarter, the Warriors started to make a run and cut the Grizzlies’ lead to just two points. This came as no surprise since it is typical in NBA games to see really good teams rally from behind to make it interesting, which is exactly what the Warriors were doing. Still, it never really felt like the Grizzlies were going to lose the game and when they needed to down the stretch, the Grizzlies found ways to score and keep the Warriors from taking the lead. In the end, the Grizzlies won the game by the score of 105-98 with Marc Gasol finishing with 24 points and 7 rebounds.

When reflecting on this game as a whole, it is clear that this game was really won in the second quarter when the Grizzlies went on that 20-0 run. No matter how good you are, if you let a really quality team like the Grizzlies go on a 20-0 run against you, odds are high you will lose. Especially on the road. In addition, the Warriors were playing without their center Andrew Bogut who is their defensive anchor in the paint. Without him down low, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were really able to have their way inside.

Lastly, this isn’t a game that the Warriors were expected to win. If there was a place for their 16 game winning streak to come to a halt, Memphis felt like a likely place. The Grizzlies needed the win more given their place in the standings and while the Warriors have been playing fantastic basketball, we all know that they were going to have come back down to earth at some point. I’m not saying that the Warriors are heading into a slump, I’m just saying that the Warriors can’t be expected to win at this pace in such a hostile Western Conference.

As for the Grizzlies, this was a really good win. They needed this win a lot more than the Warriors did. Had they lost this game, the Warriors would have firmly established themselves as the better team in the West.  Thankfully, the Grizzlies got the win and can now head into San Antonio with more confidence. Hopefully we see a similar result tomorrow!