OAKLAND, Calif. — Facing one of the toughest frontcourt tandems in the league without their two top big men, the Golden State Warriors had a good excuse to suffer another in a long line of losses to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
But thanks to point guard Stephen Curry, the club that refers to itself as a “no-excuse team” didn’t have to make any.
Curry capped a 33-point night with two hoops, including a 3-pointer, in a 14-0 run to close the contest as the Warriors rallied from seven down to stun the Grizzlies 100-93 in a game with major Western Conference playoff implications.
When a loss would have lifted the Grizzlies into a tie in the standings with the Warriors, the win by Golden State (45-27) instead vaulted it two games ahead of Memphis (43-29) with just 10 to play in the race for the sixth playoff spot in the West.
It also squared the teams’ season series — a potential first playoff-position tie-breaker — at 2-2.
“Huge win,” stressed Curry, who topped 30 points for the 18th time this season. “These are the games we have to have to close out the season.”
After being held to seven points in the first eight-plus minutes of the fourth quarter as they watched a three-point lead turn into a 93-86 deficit, the Warriors got a driving hoop from shooting guard Klay Thompson with 3:16 to go to trigger the difference-making run.
Backup power forward Draymond Green made it a two-point game with a 3-pointer on Golden State’s next possession, and the Warriors tied the score 93-all on two free throws by backup center Jermaine O’Neal with 2:04 left.
Then Curry took over. First he buried a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:21 to play for a lead the Warriors never relinquished before converting a driving layup that made it a five-point game with 30.9 seconds left.
“We’re never quitting,” Curry assured. “We have the weapons to take a heavy punch. Obviously, you never want to be down in the fourth quarter. But we can fight back.”
Thompson completed the run, and the night’s scoring, with two free throws with 5.6 seconds left.
The Grizzlies, who shot 50.6 percent from the field, missed their last six shots and went scoreless in the final 4:02.
“I don’t know if it slipped away,” observed Grizzlies coach David Joerger. “The kid (Curry) was the best player on the floor. He’s tremendous.”
Curry had eight assists to complement his 33 points on a night when he made five of eight from beyond the 3-point arc. Green (12 points) added two 3’s as Golden State outscored Memphis 27-6 on 3-pointers.
Marreese Speights, starting at power forward in place of injured David Lee, contributed 15 points and eight rebounds to the win. The Warriors outrebounded the Grizzlies 43-33 despite playing without Lee all night and center Andrew Bogut for the final 44 minutes after the veteran big man suffered a pelvic contusion.
“We had tailor-made excuses,” assured Warriors coach Mark Jackson. “This is a big-time win. They understand the light are bright and they embrace it.”
Power forward Zach Randolph had 21 points for Memphis, which had won its five previous trips to Oakland, including an 88-81 overtime affair earlier in the season.
Point guard Mike Conley added 20 points and center Marc Gasol had 17 for the Grizzlies.
“It is really disappointing,” Randolph insisted. “We were up five with just a few minutes left in the game and we couldn’t execute or get stops. It was very frustrating.”
The Warriors caught fire after they could not buy a hoop earlier in the fourth quarter.
Down 79-76 entering the final period, Memphis used a stingy defense and four consecutive hoops by Conley to build a 93-86 lead with 4:02 to play. The Warriors had only three field goals in more than eight minutes to begin the quarter.
But the game then swung when Conley missed an open 3 that could have extended the margin to 10 with 3:23 to play.
Instead, the Warriors dominated the rest of the game, holding the Grizzlies scoreless to enable the come-from-behind win.
“It’s nothing new to us,” Jackson said of the comeback. “This is who this team is.”
Bogut’s injury occurred four minutes into the game when Gasol crashed leg-first into the veteran’s midsection, sending the Warriors center to the locker room for the rest of the night with what was labeled a pelvic contusion.
Bogut is scheduled for an MRI on Saturday.
NOTES: The victory gave the Warriors back-to-back 45-win seasons for the first time since 1975-76 and ’76-77. … Small forward Andre Iguodala returned from a three-game absence due to right-knee tendinitis to contribute five points and five rebounds to the Golden State win. … The Warriors hadn’t beaten Memphis in Oakland since Nov. 3, 2010. … The Grizzlies’ franchise record for consecutive wins at a road site is six. They currently have six-game winning streaks at Minnesota and Detroit. … The loss was the Grizzlies’ first of the season in the state of California after five consecutive wins.
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