The Warriors were high on Stephen Curry‘s MVP announcement, undefeated in the postseason, and had not lost a game at Oracle Arena since Jan. 27.
But the Grizzlies don’t care, and Tuesday they proved the Warriors can be beat at home.
If there was any question about how important Mike Conley is to the Grizzlies, the answer was resounding as Conley led his team with 22 points while Memphis silenced the Oracle crowd, taking down the Warriors 97-90.
Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger said Conley’s presence on the court showed his passion and resilience and helped lead the team to victory:
“I thought Mike Conley showed tremendous heart to come out and give us what he’s got. Day in and day out he’s gotten a little better.”
Conley missed Game 1 after undergoing surgery just nine days ago to repair facial fractures near his left eye, but was cleared to play. He started the game 4-of-4 from the field in a game where the Warriors only led once — a 4-2 advantage they held for just 20 seconds.
Draymond Green found himself in early foul trouble and the Warriors seemed crippled from that point on.
Golden State could not catch a break, stumbling and struggling in every way.
Loose balls went to the Grizzlies, and the Warriors turned the ball over repeatedly — 20 times for 22 points. Memphis dictated the tempo of the game forcing the Warriors into a slow half-court grind, and Klay Thompson couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm.
Even the newly appointed MVP, Stephen Curry, played inefficiently finishing the first half with just nine points — leading the Warriors— and finishing the night 7-of-19 overall and 2-of-11 from distance.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said his team lost all poise, played frantically, lost control of the game and that Memphis was the better team Tuesday:
“They deserved to win. They kicked our butts. They controlled the whole game, and we have to learn from this. We were not poised and we did not play well.”
Closing out the first half, the Green and Curry looked like they wanted to pick up the pace and were able to cut the Grizzlies lead to just two points. But Memphis took control again after a 9-0 tear for a 50-39 lead at the midway point.
Andrew Bogut started the third quarter with back-to-back tip-ins, but the next possessions were representative of the Warriors’ night.
After desperate defensive attempts to keep the Grizzlies locked down, Marc Gasol sank a wide open jumper at the top of the key followed by Zach Randolph hitting a deep jumper at the shot-clock buzzer for the Grizzlies’ largest lead 59-45.
Leandro Barbosa, who had been one of the few bright spots for the Warriors in the first half, opened the final frame with back-to-back buckets. Thompson finally started to hit shots, but it was too little too late.
Memphis kept the Warriors at an arms distance and evened the series, gaining the home-court advantage moving forward.
Even so, Curry remains optimistic moving forward and is confident that his team will bounce back. He told SFBay a loss in the postseason was bound to happen:
“You’ve got to be really with yourself and know you probably won’t go 16-0 in the playoffs. Eventually there are some great teams that you have to face and its tough to beat a team four times, let alone not lose a game in a series. So we’ll be all right. We’ll make some adjustments.”
The Warriors, tied 1-1 in the Western Conference semifinals, head to Memphis for Games 3 and 4 to be played Saturday and Monday before returning to Oracle for Game 5 May 13.
Memphis snapped Golden State’s 21-game home winning streak, ending a 26-game home win streak against Western Conference foes. … Golden State hit six threes on 23.1 percent from long distance, both 2015 Playoff lows. … Draymond Green secured his fifth double-double of the postseason with 14 points and 12 rebounds. … Leandro Barbosa recorded 14 points in 14 minutes off the bench, the most scored by a Warriors reserve this postseason.